The Landmark recently reported about the redevelopment of a property obtained by the Village of Brookfield, and a developer proposing returning the property to a bowling alley (“Plan pitched to renovate Brookfield Bowl,” News, Dec. 10). The developer felt the village was putting up roadblocks to him because he is ready to move.
The village is not going to negotiate in the newspaper with any developer. We have already been approached by several other developers about this property. No one is preventing a bowling alley in any of the commercially zoned properties around town.
But in this particular location, the village owns this property. We obtained the property through a two-year, no-cash bid program meant to get properties that have been foreclosed upon back onto the tax rolls and economically sustainable.
This property owed nearly $300,000 in back taxes. The village needs to follow a legal procedure in how we offer this property. It cannot be given to anyone just because they want it. We are in the middle of obtaining appraisals for the property, after which we will formally ask for development proposals.
Ultimately, it comes down to finding what will be the best for Brookfield. Is a bowling alley the right idea? We had a bowling alley before, and we are here because it failed. Will another one work? Maybe.
We want good sustainable development. This is a rare case where the village owns the property and has some say in its development. Generally, our zoning code dictates what is permitted, which may lead to projects the general public may not always like.
What can we do to reduce the risk potential developers have in doing business in Brookfield? How can we show them they can make money on development in Brookfield?
While we can help steer development a certain way, we really cannot dictate. We have to look at what we do and do not control. If the economic realities, the demographic realities or the lot size realities do not make financial sense for a developer, it is pretty difficult to make that development happen.
In the past year, we have seen three national franchises decide to locate on Ogden Avenue — something we have not seen in decades. Sales tax revenue was our highest in history last year, and we are on pace to surpass that this year. We are happy with the progress we have made, but we do have more to do.
Recently, the village obtained two grants that directly relate to these goals. One is for updating our zoning code, something that has not been done in decades. The second is for updating our 20/20 Master Plan, which is now 10 years old. We have been making many of the necessary changes put forth in this plan, but it is time to refresh these goals.
The building and planning department has gone through a complete overhaul. With the hiring of the community and economic development director next month, our revamping of the community development department will be complete.
Our goal is to bring good sustainable commercial development to Brookfield that continues to move our village forward.
Kit P. Ketchmark
Brookfield village president