The developer picked by the village of Brookfield to redevelop the site of the now-demolished Brookfield Bowl, 3415 Maple Ave., has walked away from the project, leaving officials searching for a new partner.
Nicholas Greifer, the village’s community and economic development director, confirmed on May 23 that Hinsdale-based Tartan Builders had abandoned plans to build a three- to four-story apartment building on the property, which is owned by the village.
“I think they didn’t realize how complex it would have to be from a drafting standpoint and that there were certain costs they may have to plan for that they weren’t ready to take on,” Greifer said.
Greifer said the village delivered a draft redevelopment agreement to Tartan Builders in mid-May, looking to move the project forward, but the company balked at signing.
“I think the outlines of the agreement were there, but when you have an agreement in front of you from a village attorney, that really concentrates the mind,” Greifer said. “I think because they have more experience in single-family and a little bit less in multi-family, I think they were a little more risk-averse and wanted a higher margin of comfort.”
Reached by phone, Tartan Builders principal Scott McNaughton refused to talk about the decision to move on from the Brookfield project.
“I’m not interested in commenting on that.” McNaughton said.
The news of Tartan Builders walking away from the bowling alley development project ends a more than year-long process that started in February 2018 when the company pitched plans for either an apartment building or senior living facility.
A month later, the village board inked a preliminary deal with Tartan Builders to allow them an exclusive opportunity to perform due diligence and work up concepts in advance of the village issuing a formal request for qualifications from the development community.
Tartan Builders was the only firm to respond to the RFQ in July 2018, beginning negotiations on a final redevelopment agreement. However, by late 2018 there were signs the agreement was in peril.
The village agreed to take on the cost for demolishing the bowling alley, which also included asbestos abatement, hoping to remove one roadblock in negotiations. The demolition was paid for using tax increment financing funds from the Eight Corners TIF, which includes the property.
Late last year, McNaughton confirmed the company was aware of other environmental risks, since the property is adjacent to a gas station.
Late last week, the village began further environmental review by taking soil borings from the property. Officials ought to have the results of those tests and a firmer idea of what kind of site remediation must be done in the next month or so.
In the meantime, Greifer said he will immediately begin to reach out to the development community regarding the bowling alley property.
“I think we have to quickly pivot to a new developer,” Greifer said. “And I think we’ll have more interest now that the bowling alley is down, and I think the fact that we have money in the TIF fund that we didn’t have a year ago makes it easier to go back to the development community and say, ‘Hey, if you’re interested this would be a pretty good site to develop in partnership with the village.”
Now that Tartan Builders has walked away from the bowling alley, officials are still unsure what the company’s plans are for redeveloping the property they own at 8911 Burlington Ave. in downtown Brookfield.
Tartan Builders won approval from the village in 2018 to build a four-story, mixed-use building on the site, but the project never broke ground. In late 2018, McNaughton said the company was changing its plans and making the building purely residential.
But those plans have gone nowhere, and Greifer said he’s unsure what’s next for the property.
“I think if they had concerns about the bowling alley, they might have similar concerns on Burlington,” Greifer said.
Asked last week if he wanted to comment on Tartan Builder’s plan for the Burlington Avenue site, McNaughton said, “No. Thank you. Have a good day.”