At the Brookfield Village Board meeting on Sept. 28, trustees are expected to approve an ordinance authorizing the village to acquire the property through Cook County’s No-Cash Bid Program.

The program, which Cook County created to get tax-delinquent properties redeveloped and back on the tax rolls, was also used by the village to acquire the bowling alley. Brookfield took possession of the building in November 2014.

However, the two parcels comprising the 6,250-square-foot parking lot to the north were not part of that deal. Since the acquisition of the bowling alley building, those parking lot parcels have become eligible for the No-Cash Bid Program.

Although there are more than two lienholders on those parcels, including the First National Bank of Brookfield, it’s unlikely anyone will exercise their rights to claim title to the property.

Unpaid property taxes and late fees amount to about $40,000, not including unpaid special assessments and legal fees associated with acquiring the properties.

“It’s unlikely a tax buyer would acquire the property because it’s so uneconomical at this point,” said Village Attorney Richard Ramello.

Instead, the village is planning on spending about $25,000 in legal fees to acquire the property through the no-cash bid process.

“As it moves forward, this is the best chance for redevelopment that we have, and probably the quickest and most efficient way to get something done,” said Village Manager Keith Sbiral. “Twenty-five thousand dollars in the bigger scheme of this is relatively minor, and it’s reasonable to assume that … there may be a way to recoup some of that cost if we turn it over to a private developer ultimately.” 

Sbiral told village trustees on Sept. 14 that the process for acquiring the parking lot ought to take between 12 and 18 months.

Acquiring the lot would make redevelopment of the site more attractive to developers, said Nicholas Greifer, Brookfield’s director of community and economic development.

It also fits into the village’s overall plan to promote development generally in the Eight Corners Business District. Village officials have commissioned a TIF district study for the area. A report on the feasibility of a TIF district is expected to be unveiled later this fall.

Late in 2014, a Chicago options trader pitched a plan to remake the bowling alley into an entertainment destination. That plan depended on being able to acquire the parking lot.

But Greifer said the village has not been approached by anyone with a plan that was ready to move ahead at present. He did say that the no-cash bid process, while it will take some time to complete, would not be an impediment for developers.

The no-cash bid process and the village’s planned development process, which itself could take months to complete, could take place on parallel tracks.

“If we get some serious interest, we can still move forward,” Greifer said. “We can work on the legal track and work with a developer if we get an actual project on a separate, concurrent track to keep it moving forward.”

Starting the no-cash bid process also does not lock the village into seeing it through to completion, Ramello said.

If a developer came to the village with a project that required immediate acquisition of the property, he said, the village and developer could work out a deal to pay the back taxes to the county and then work with the bank to strike a deal to move ahead.

“It’s not one or the other,” Ramello said.