The clock is ticking on a multifamily residential development approved last summer at 8845 Burlington Ave. in Brookfield, but as of late last week no architectural plans had been submitted to the Community Development Department for approval and no one appears to know if it’s moving ahead at all.
In late July, village trustees gave developer Jason Huang the go-ahead to construct a 14-unit apartment building at 8845 Burlington Ave., granting a zoning variance for the building type, since general apartment buildings aren’t allowed by right in the zoning district where the property is located.
Anyone obtaining a zoning variance from the village board must, per the village code, “exercise” that variance within six months, meaning that the developer needs to apply for building permits. In this case, the variance expires at the end of January, said Kendra Kuehlem, the village planner, who said she had scheduled a meeting with Huang for Jan. 7 to get an update on the proposed development.
“We’re working with them to get plans submitted,” Kuehlem said. “They’ll need an extension from the village board if they’re going ahead with the project, so hopefully we’ll get an answer from the applicant.”
Reached Dec. 29 by the Landmark, Huang sounded uncertain about the development’s prospects, declining to confirm one way or another whether the project was still a go.
“At this point we’re figuring it out, and that’s all I can say,” Huang said during a brief phone call.
The Landmark also spoke with Emily Egan, the village’s director of community development, who said she had talked to Huang and that he was not interested in getting an extension for the variance.
Regardless, the Jan. 7 meeting with Huang is still on, said Egan, because the village remains interested in getting that property redeveloped.
“We want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to make sure that property is optimized,” Egan said.
At the time the development was approved, Huang told local officials that the existing building would be demolished and that they’d be “moving ground before winter comes.” Once that happened, Huang told the Landmark in July, the building would be ready for occupancy within seven or eight months after he obtained building permits.
Huang had planned on prefabricating building modules offsite and then hauling them to Brookfield for assembly, making construction more efficient and less weather dependent.
The four-unit building at 8845 Burlington Ave., which was purchased by an LLC connected to Huang last March for $432,500, still stands on the site. Keuhlem said Huang obtained demolition permits to raze the apartment building and detached garage at the end of November.
“Everybody is eager to see what’s going to happen,” Kuehlem said.
While village officials generally were enthusiastic in approving the development, which is consistent with the transit-oriented focus of the Station Area Zoning Code adopted in 2017 for areas near the village’s three train stations, neighbors were not as pleased.
Complaints about the project included the scale of the building compared to its immediate neighbors and what they considered too little onsite parking. The approved development called for 13 onsite vehicle parking spaces for the 14 units.
Huang used a provision in the zoning code allowing developers to reduce the number of vehicle parking spaces by substituting them for onsite bicycle parking spaces. In the end, Huang was credited for four vehicle spaces by including 27 bike parking spaces.
Village trustees subsequently changed the zoning code to limit the number of bicycle parking credits to prevent developers from abusing the provision in the future.