Brookfield trustees on Oct. 11 voted 5 to 1 to pay a consulting firm $20,000 to see whether it’s feasible for the village to attract a grocery store and where such a business might be located.
Trustee Brian Conroy cast the lone vote against the agreement with Mallon and Associates, a Wheaton-based company that specializes in retail real estate development, with specific expertise in developing grocery stores and pharmacies.
Brookfield Village Manager Timothy Wiberg told trustees prior to the vote that conducting the feasibility study aligned with the village board’s strategic goal of attracting economic development.
Though it was not listed as a specific goal of the Brookfield Comprehensive Plan adopted by the village board in 2016, a prior comprehensive plan — the Brookfield 2020 Master Plan — specifically mentioned a grocery store as desirable for the Ogden Avenue corridor.
That master plan, adopted by the village board in 2004, envisioned such a store being located north of Ogden Avenue in an area that includes what is now village-owned property adjacent to the Congress Park Metra station.
“Since I’ve been in Brookfield one of the items I’ve heard is desirous for redevelopment in Brookfield is a grocery store,” said Wiberg, who noted the village already had one grocery store, Tischler Finer Foods at Eight Corners. “The sentiment is there’s room and the ability for this community to support another grocery store.”
Reached by phone, Dennis Tischler, the owner of Tischler Finer Foods, said he was aware of the impending feasibility study but declined to comment on it, saying he hadn’t yet read the proposal.
The man who will conduct the feasibility study and deliver a report to Brookfield officials next February is Mike Mallon, who recently served as the land-use planner and principal spokesman for a multifamily development soon to be constructed in the 8800 block of Burlington Avenue.
In addition to serving as a consultant for residential real estate developers, Mallon has more than 20 years of retail development experience. According to information provided as part of his consulting proposal for Brookfield, Mallon has been involved in analyzing and developing more than 180 food/drug stores, including Jewel/Osco, Whole Foods, Aldi, Food4Less, Kroger, Fresh Market, Meijer, Tony’s Finer Foods and more.
Mallon’s proposal indicates he will be specifically evaluating the area called out in the 2020 Master Plan – the area near the Congress Park train station – for “market potential and site selection.”
The study will assess the Brookfield market to determine what kind of a grocery store would be appropriate and successful given demographics and competition; determine sales projections based on the store format, size and operator; analyze the impact on existing grocers; and identify who a new store might attract.
“I think Brookfield would benefit from a study like this,” Wiberg said.
Conroy was the lone trustee to voice opposition to the consulting agreement and wondered if Mallon’s work in promoting what turned out to be a successful development application for another developer posed some sort of conflict of interest.
The village’s attorney at the Oct. 11 village board meeting, Michael R. Durkin, stated that the arrangement didn’t pose a conflict since Mallon was working with the village in a “limited capacity.”
“It seems like we’re putting a lot of money into consultants and planning,” Conroy said, referencing the ongoing Ogden Avenue Corridor Study, which is costing the village $75,000, and the village’s recent hire of a part-time economic development coordinator, who is being paid $84 per hour. “It’s just a feasibility study for a grocery store.”
Wiberg responded that the study was the first step, and that if it was determined the market can support such a store, “the hope would be [Mallon] would tap into those relationships and perhaps bring grocers to talk to us.”