As Brookfield trustees prepare themselves to vote to amend the village’s zoning code to prohibit all types of “assembly” in the Eight Corners business district, they might want to give a hard look at what’s now being proposed by the Rev. Karl Sokol for the 3400 block of Grand Blvd. and maybe take a breath.
For the past decade, the owners of that property, which starts at the point formed by the intersection of Grand Boulevard and Washington Avenue and runs about halfway down Grand Boulevard, have made no secret about their wish to bring a church to the site.
Back in 2009 when Linda Sokol Francis began assembling the land (much of it has since been transferred to the Methodist Church) the concept for a structure was more “churchy,” so to speak. It was essentially a large, open indoor space, with a proposed ice cream parlor at the point of the corner.
The plan ended up getting the thumbs down from both the Plan Commission and the village board in 2010.
Since that time, the village has adopted a comprehensive plan that clearly articulates what officials see as the future for Eight Corners – a pedestrian-oriented commercial and residential district. One that ideally wouldn’t have a church plunked down on the circle.
And in the latest plan, revealed Jan. 14 at the village board’s committee of the whole meeting by Rev. Sokol, you don’t get a church on the circle.
What’s being proposed, at least conceptually, is a building that would appear to very much fit into the pedestrian-oriented commercial district the village is trying to foster. Ground floor commercial spaces? Check. Above ground multifamily residential units? Check.
On the opposite side of the building Sokol proposes to build a “fine arts center” that would accommodate live theater as well as the visual arts. An auditorium seating perhaps 150 would serve as a performance space, a place that could be used by the community and, yes, as a church.
Yes, the church space would come off the tax rolls. The rest of the development, said Sokol, would be taxed like any other commercial or residential property in the village. Onsite parking is planned for the northern end of the property.
It’s not clear that such a development (particularly a surface parking lot on the north end, which is in a purely residential zoning district) would pass muster. Designs can change to make them work.
But the plan doesn’t get off the ground at all if, in two weeks, the village board votes to prohibit “assembly” in the zoning district.
We’re not sure what members of the village board believe would be better suited to this property than what Sokol revealed on Monday. There has to be a way to achieve the village’s goals while finding accommodation for what looks to be a theater that is used in a very limited way as a church.
We’re not sure how much good faith Karl Sokol and Linda Sokol Francis need to display to prove they’re not trying to pull a fast one on the village. To date, their intentions, and the results, have been nothing but positive.