By Bob Uphues
The village of Brookfield appears ready to move ahead on drafting a preliminary agreement with a firm interested in exploring redevelopment of the long-shuttered Brookfield Bowl, 3415 Maple Ave.
Hinsdale-based Tartan Builders, which is also redeveloping property on Burlington Avenue in downtown Brookfield, wants time to explore possible options for the bowling alley and adjacent parking lot. The properties are owned by the village of Brookfield, which acquired them through Cook County's no-cash bid program.
Such an agreement, said Brookfield Community and Economic Development Director Nicholas Greifer, "gives them X-amount of time to do some due diligence and gives them comfort kind of knowing that we've given them an informal blessing to the developer to do this for a particular period of time."
During the term of the agreement, which Greifer said would likely be a few months, no other firm could come in and acquire the property for development. In any case, that would appear unlikely, since the building has sat vacant and without much interest since the village acquired the bowling alley in 2014.
If after the preliminary redevelopment agreement expires Tartan Builders wants to move ahead with a plan, Brookfield would first issue an open call for proposals, though Tartan Builders would have a leg up on the competition since it would have already completed site planning and preliminary design work.
The village used a similar process for the land it owns near the Congress Park Metra stop in the 4000 block of DuBois Boulevard. After giving the firm Troutman and Dams a preliminary development agreement, the village sought proposals for the site late in 2017.
Greifer confirmed during a meeting of the village board's Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee meeting on Feb. 12 that the village was close to inking a formal agreement with Troutman and Dams to redevelop the Congress Park property.
Ryan McNaughton, one of the principals of Tartan Builders said his firm envisions one of two options for the former bowling alley site. The first would be a three- to five-story mixed-use building with commercial uses on the first floor and apartments above. The building could also simply be an apartment building.
The other option would be building an active senior living facility, which McNaughton said would be perfect for the Eight Corners location.
"It would be more of a 55-and-over community," McNaughton said. "We've found them to be in high demand in just preliminary studies in surrounding areas like LaGrange, LaGrange Park and Countryside. It would be kind of a unique niche to bring to Brookfield."
Tartan Builders would seek to demolish the bowling alley and McNaughton expressed openness to possibly assembling other parcels to make the development work. He said the firm has been in contact with the owner of Tischler Finer Foods to see if Tartan Builders might be able to acquire a portion of its parking lot for on-site parking for such a development.
The company plans on using Brookfield architect Charles Grund, who is also chairman of the Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission, said McNaughton. Grund is also the architect for the firm's Burlington Avenue development.
Tartan Builders doesn't have any commercial tenants lined up for a potential mixed-use project, said McNaughton, but if the village agrees to move forward with a preliminary development agreement "we'd start testing the waters."
McNaughton said Tartan Builders in interested in developing more property in Brookfield in the future.
"We're very interested in planting our flag here in terms of developing in your community," McNaughton said. "We're interested in building a brand here in town."
The full village board will get a chance to discuss whether to move forward on a preliminary development agreement with Tartan Builders at their next meeting on Feb. 26.
Village trustees could vote to approve such an agreement as early as their March 12 meeting.