The fate of a nine-unit apartment building proposed for a vacant parcel of land at 8934 Fairview Ave. in Brookfield is in the hands of the Brookfield Village Board, which is scheduled to vote on the final development plan on May 27.
At the village board’s Committee of the Whole meeting on May 12, Ken Rathje, representing developer Michael Gatto of RMG Realty, made a final pitch to village trustees to give the development their blessing after failing to convince a majority of the Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission last month.
Because the commission failed to recommend the final plan, four of the six village trustees must vote in favor of the development to move it forward.
Rathje reiterated the developer’s argument that the building’s placement on the lot, the storm water retention plan and the number of parking spaces were necessary for a successful development. He made a minor concession regarding a landscaping issue, but emphasized that the plan also had the blessing of the village’s building director, Assistant Village Manager Keith Sbiral.
Exactly where members of the village board stand on the development was impossible to decipher after a discussion of the proposal on May 12. Trustee Michelle Ryan summarized the issues the Planning and Zoning Commission had with the plan, including ambivalence to a front-yard parking lot and dissatisfaction with building materials.
“As we all have to think about, does it promote high standards of design, site planning and construction?” said Ryan, who pointed out that in the village’s 2020 Master Plan, the 8900 block of Fairview Avenue is called out specifically because it’s an area highly visible to commuter traveling through the village by train.
“So we can say either this is new and exciting or we can say this isn’t quite in the historic character of Brookfield,” Ryan said.
Rathje addressed the issue of the front parking lot’s visibility to commuters, saying the concern over it was overblown.
“We’re the third tier back from the railroad tracks. In front of us is commuter parking, Brookfield Avenue, a parking lot for the dentist’s office, parking on Fairview Avenue and we are going to be screening it with landscaping,” said Rathje. “To say that our parking in front is going to somehow besmirch Brookfield, I don’t know that that’s a fair statement.”
Meanwhile, Gatto pointed out the higher-end finishes for the apartments — hardwood floors, granite countertops — saying they would attract “a higher quality of tenant.”
Three people whose residences border the development property also registered their approval of the project. Two of the neighbors who spoke on May 12 owned townhomes in the development immediately west of the property.
James Chaveriat said since the property is located within a commercial zoning district, any number of developments — ranging from parking garages to liquor stores — could be placed there by right.
“It’s a great opportunity for the village to re-establish the residential character of the block west of Grand Boulevard,” Chaveriat said.
John Scaletta, who said he was a neighbor in the building immediately east of the proposed development, enthusiastically supported the project. However, the ownership of the development site and Scaletta’s building appear to be related.
Both properties were sold by the First National Bank of Brookfield on the same date, and the attorney to whom the recorded deeds were mailed is also the same. The development site was purchased by a company called Grossdale Properties LLC, which lists Gatto and two others as its managers. The building to the east was purchased by a real estate trust, whose members are not identified.