Despite complaints from some neighbors, plans are moving ahead for the first three-story building on Grand Boulevard as the Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission voted 6 to 0 on Nov. 15 to recommend granting three variances to a developer who is seeking to construct a mixed-use building at 3704 Grand Blvd.
And after discussing the matter at their committee of the whole meeting on Nov. 26, the Brookfield Village Board is now poised to vote on the variance requests at their next meeting on Dec. 10. If trustees greenlight the variances, developer Michael Gatto said he hoped to break ground on the new three-story, mixed use building next spring.
Gatto is seeking variances to allow for an increase from 20 to 40 percent for semi-permeable lot coverage and for zero lot line setbacks for a three-story building that is expected to include about 2,000 square feet of ground floor retail space and 11 apartments.
Gatto showed village trustees on Nov. 26 his plan for a green roof to meet the new requirement for permeable lot coverage after Planning and Zoning Commission member Jennifer Hendricks doubted the viability of green balconies he also included.
The green roof would serve not only as a storm water management tool but as an amenity for the residents of the building, said Gatto, with grass and other plantings and a pergola.
Some neighbors complained about the proposed new building, which would replace a dated three-unit, one-story white brick commercial building, which now houses Sal’s Power Washing, a podiatrist’s office, and one vacant storefront. Critics say it would be too big, too dense, and create traffic and congestion headaches.
Plans for the building call for covered parking for nine cars at the rear of the building facing Sunnyside Avenue. Even though the building is a short walk to the train station, White contended that most tenants are likely to have cars.
In addition to the parking spaces behind the building at least four street parking spots are likely to be credited to the building.
“It’s just going to make more congestion,” said Brian White, who lives on Sunnyside Avenue. “If you have all these units with all these people, there’s going to be a lot of cars parked in a congested area.”
Some also complained about the placement of a dumpster at the rear of the building.
Susan O’Connell who lives just south of the proposed building complained that the current drawings would seem to allow direct views into her bedroom from some of the apartments. But Gatto told O’Connell after the meeting that he would address that issue and the current drawing are just a rough draft.
O’Connell said after the meeting that her biggest objection to the proposed building is its size and heft.
“It’s a big massive red block,” O’Connell said. “It’s a shame, because everything else has a setback and all of sudden they don’t have a setback and they’re going up another story.”
After the meeting Gatto told O’Connell that the building needed to be three stories to make the project financially feasible.
“I can’t make the numbers work at two [floors],” Gatto said.
Commission members said that they saw no reason to deny the request for the three variances.
“This property is unusually configured, which is textbook for a zoning variance,” Benjamin said. “I think it will actually improve the values of the properties facing Sunnyside.”
White was not happy about vote.
“After all that, I don’t see how they could still vote yes,” White said as he hurried out of the Brookfield Village Hall after the vote.
After getting more input from residents after the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, Gatto said he hoped to be able to set the building back up to three feet from the Sunnyside Avenue property line to provide screening and soften the visual impact of the building there.
“We’re working towards trying to make everybody happy,” Gatto said. “I think this makes it better.”
If approved, the Grand Boulevard building will be Gatto’s third project in Brookfield. Gatto developed the Signature Apartments in the 8900 block of Fairview Avenue, which opened this year and will soon start construction on another small apartment building at 8917 Grant Ave.
The development firm, RMG Realty, consists of Gatto, with two uncles providing the financial backing said the 31-year-old Gatto, who grew up in Downers Grove and now lives in Lisle.
Gatto said that the Grand Boulevard building is expected to contain three one-bedroom apartments and eight two-bedroom apartments.
He said that he expected the one-bedroom apartments to rent for around $1,350 to $1,450 a month and the two-bedroom apartments to rent for around $1,900 to $2,100 a month.
He said that the apartments should appeal to millennials who work downtown and but want to live in a lively suburb.
“We’re basically a lower-cost alternative to living downtown, but still maintaining the same finish level that they would expect to see in a downtown apartment building,” Gatto said.
RMG has also developed a mixed-use building in Lisle.
“I’ve targeted Brookfield and Lisle as my two growth communities up and down the BNSF railroad,” Gatto said.
Bob Uphues contributed to this report.