As early as spring 2006, the once familiar farmhouse-turned-restaurant at 8906 31st St. in Brookfield?”known to everyone as Buresh’s Lobster House?”will be only a memory.
In fact, the building that housed the Lobster House from 1949 to 2004 may be gone within a month, when a demolition crew will begin clearing the land to make way for a new residential development that will feature 18 townhomes and four single-family homes.
On Aug. 10, the Brookfield village trustees voted unanimously to allow several zoning variations for the Prairie Square Townhomes, closing the book on what was an often contentious battle between residents and developers.
Breathing a sigh of relief, architect John Schiess, developers Alex Troyanovsky and Gary Levitas and a small cadre of neighbors shook hands after the vote claiming success for both sides.
“We discovered that even though the numbers were not exactly what we wanted them to be, we like the development now much better,” Troyanovsky said. “As a developer, we’re losing some money, but we’re gaining credibility and respect. We’re glad [the neighbors] participated in that.”
Dan Cook, the resident who served as a spokesman for neighbors at the many zoning and planning hearings since early 2004, said that the neighbors’ resolve had a lot to do with the village board’s vote.
“There was strength in numbers,” Cook said. “We as a group got together because we were scared as hell. [The developers] took great strides; you did work with us.”
According to Schiess, the developers have already applied for demolition permits from Cook County and said that a chain link fence will soon surround the site.
Schiess also said that he would present architectural and engineering drawings to the village within two to three weeks, and that obtaining building permits could take anywhere from four to eight weeks.
“We’re hoping to get the foundations in so we can do the framing during the winter,” Schiess said. “We’ll be working all winter. I’m saying that the earliest closings might be spring of 2006.”
Recent advertisements for the development have listed the townhomes between $330,000 and $345,000. The single-family homes are listed between $470,000 and $480,000.
The final plan is a far cry from the development originally pitched to village officials back in late 2003. At that time, the property was owned by Martin Cosgrave and Kevin Comer, and the first incarnation of the plan called for rezoning the entire property and erecting a 72-unit condominium building.
That proposal was later scaled back to a development calling for 18 townhomes framing a 28-unit condo building. That plan would also have required the village to rezone the property, which allows single-family homes on the north half and multifamily on the south half.
In February 2005 the proposal to rezone the property won the support of the village’s Plan Commission, but neighbors were outraged over the scale of that project. The village board refused to consider the plan, and the owners revised the plan, floating a concept that included 34 townhomes.
That plan went nowhere, and in September 2004 the property was sold to the Brookfield Development Group for $1.6 million. In November 2004, Schiess unveiled a 34-townhome proposal at a meeting of the Brookfield Plan Commission, which reversed its earlier decision and denied an appeal to rezone the land.
By early 2005, developers abandoned the idea of rezoning the property and in February reached a compromise with neighbors on the current plan.
Schiess said that the Brookfield Development Group is also eyeing other development opportunities in the village, but would not identify those parcels of land.
“The developers had looked at two other properties, but they decided to put those on hold until this was resolved,” Schiess said. “Now they are willing to be engaged in development in Brookfield. We think it’s going to be great.”