The village of Brookfield will move to tear down the vacant Brookfield Bowl at 3415 Maple Ave. in early 2019 after at least two instances in which people broke into the former bowling alley, one of them resulting in an attempt to burn it down.
Nicholas Greifer, director of the village’s community and economic development department, confirmed Brookfield’s intentions to seek demolition bids in a Dec. 7 phone interview with the Landmark.
“We want to move forward with demolition, and if we do it ourselves, we think we can expedite it and do it faster,” said Greifer. “We’ll be putting together bid documents in the next several weeks.”
The village initially had hoped to pass along the expense of demolishing the bowling alley to Tartan Builders, the Hinsdale-based company that hopes to redevelop the property and construct a three- to four-story residential building.
In its response to an RFQ issued by Brookfield earlier this year, Tartan Builders identified the building as “rental apartments or 55+ living.” The development company’s proposal suggested that the building contain 16 to 20 units, from studios to two-bedroom units.
Since submitting their proposal, however, a deal has been slow to emerge. By taking on demolition of the building, the village may remove a negotiating roadblock. Greifer said the redevelopment agreement being negotiated would “probably have to change, given that we’re adding value by taking down the building.”
The cost for demolition won’t be known until the village receives bids, but Greifer estimated that it ought to come in around the $100,000 figure the village obtained about five years ago when it previously was contemplating demolition.
Greifer said that the cost for the demolition would be paid for through funds collected by the Eight Corners TIF District, which was established in 2016. TIF funds can be used for a variety of projects within the district, including site remediation.
In 2016 and 2017, the Eight Corners TIF generated almost $260,000 in incremental tax revenue for use within the district.
“Fortunately, with the TIF starting to perform, I think we’ll have a little bit of revenue in the TIF fund to offset the demo cost,” Greifer said. “That’s something I wouldn’t have been able to say a couple of years ago.”
It’s also unclear to what extent the bowling alley property will need some sort of environmental remediation. The building stands immediately adjacent to a gas station. Once the building comes down, said Greifer, the village would have a better opportunity to obtain soil samples from the property.
Scott McNaughton, principal for Tartan Builders, said his firm conducted some testing as part of its due diligence on the property earlier this year that revealed some “environmental risks.”
“There are a lot of unknowns environmentally,” McNaughton said.
Greifer could give no timetable for exactly when the village might be able to complete a redevelopment agreement with Tartan Builders for the bowling alley property.
“I don’t want to make any predictions, because these are two-party negotiations, but conceptually it’s a pretty straightforward deal that’s being negotiated. I think we’re knocking down most of the tasks so we can get to a negotiated agreement.”
Burlington Ave. development in flux
Meanwhile, a development opportunity that Tartan Builders has been pursuing at 8911 Burlington Ave. still remains at the starting blocks.
The company rolled out plans for a four-story, mixed-use development at the downtown Brookfield property last January. The Brookfield Village Board in February voted to rezone the property in order to allow a mixed-use commercial building to be built by right, setting the stage for Tartan Builders to begin working with planning staff to gain final approvals and building permits.
However, McNaughton told the Landmark in a phone interview last week that Tartan Builders is having its architect redesign the building that would “eliminate mostly, if not all, the commercial detail” in the design, making it primarily a residential structure.
The reason for the change, McNaughton said, was to make the development financially viable for Tartan Builders.
“The costs were just way out of line with where we needed it to be,” McNaughton said. “The numbers just didn’t work, so we had to go to Plan B.”
McNaughton said his firm is still very interested in redeveloping the Burlington Avenue site and that he hoped construction could begin in spring 2019.
The question now will be whether an all-residential or principally residential building meets the property’s new zoning, which requires commercial uses on the ground floor.
“I think they’ll find a way to work within the zoning modernization ordinance as it’s written,” Greifer said.