The old building is demolished and a foundation is being poured (above) for a new 9-unit apartment building at 3727 Sunnyside Ave. in Brookfield. The development (a rendering of the façade is below) is expected to take eight to 10 months to complete. (Bob Uphues/Editor)
(Courtesy of Village of Brookfield)

Brookfield’s latest downtown apartment building, a nine-unit development at 3727 Sunnyside Ave., has broken ground. The old structure that had sat at the rear of the property for a century was demolished in the past two weeks, and last week a crew poured the concrete foundation.

The three-story apartment building is the fourth in Brookfield’s downtown for developer Michael Gatto since 2017, when he built the nine-unit complex that sits directly across the alley from the Sunnyside Avenue site at 8934 Fairview Ave.

“I’m super excited for this building,” said Gatto. “Now that we’ve done enough [apartment construction] in town, we feel we really have perfected the unit layout.”

Gatto also revealed that he has a fifth development in the works in Brookfield. He declined to get into details about the building or its location within the village but said it likely would be coming before the Planning and Zoning Commission in the near future.

The building at 3727 Sunnyside Ave. will have six one-bedroom units and three two-bedroom units. The one-bedroom apartments will each be around 800 square feet, with the two-bedrooms coming between 1,050 and 1,100 square feet, according to Gatto.

The front entrance to the building is stepped back from the front façade to allow more green space on the Sunnyside Avenue frontage. The development includes nine parking spaces at the rear of the property, where the property line angles southeast like a trapezoid.

The building will be clad with 1-by-6-inch engineered wood siding that will sit flush with the exterior. It will be a neutral earth tone/gray color to fit in with the other residential properties in the 3700 block of Sunnyside Avenue, Gatto said.

While the existing east-west gravel alley separating the new apartment building from properties along Fairview Avenue will remain for now, Gatto said he’s open to discussing getting it paved. Gatto’s properties account for nearly the entire frontage on either side of the alley.

“I think we should revisit paving the alley as a block,” said Gatto. “It’s a conversation that needs to take place.”

Gatto said the development should be completed in eight to 10 months and ready for occupancy in summer 2023. Rents for the one-bedroom units are projected to be about $1,900 per month, with the two-bedrooms coming at about $2,350 per month.

Those rates are comparable or slightly lower than downtown LaGrange or downtown Elmhurst, which Gatto sees as his competing markets. Brookfield, he said, is viewed in the rental market as on par with those communities.

“We are hitting price points that are very similar to those downtowns, which is a very large statement on Brookfield,” Gatto said. “Brookfield is a first-tier community. All we needed was a first-tier product, and I think we’ve done a good job marketing that.”

According to Gatto, his most recently completed development, a mixed-use building of 17 one-bedroom apartments at 3708 Grand Blvd. has been leasing for the last three months.

Eleven units have been leased already and Gatto said the remaining six will be leased soon. Initially he believed the units would rent for about $1,800 a month, but they have been going for between $1,899 and $1,925 depending on amenities.

A number of those renting units in the building are younger medical professionals who work at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, which is a quick drive up First Avenue.

“There’s a unique opportunity to be had with Loyola being seven minutes door to door,” said Gatto. “I’m seeing younger professionals who are either transplants from the suburbs or moving out of the city to start the next phase of their life.”

Gatto said his two-bedroom tenants tend to be “starter families” with a child who is not yet old enough to be enrolled in school or empty-nesters looking to downsize.

‘Triangle’ property planning at preliminary stage

Construction fencing has been erected around the “triangle” property at 8921 Fairview Ave. but planning for a new development there is still in the very preliminary stages, according to the property’s owner and local building officials.

For about the past 30 years the 15,300-square-foot property wedged between Brookfield Avenue, Fairview Avenue and a warehouse on the west end of the block owned by Brookfield Zoo, was home to the dental practice of Dr. Alan Isaac. Many years prior to that, a gas station stood on the land.

In late 2019, a corporation associated with Jane and Martin McDonagh, who operate a demolition/excavation company in Valparaiso, Indiana, bought the property for $150,000.

In recent weeks, the McDonaghs have demolished the old dental office building. Reached last week, Jane McDonagh told the Landmark that they were still waiting for final approval to remove two underground storage tanks associated with the property’s prior use as a gas station. 

8921 Fairview after demo. (Bob Uphues/Editor)

The tanks needs to be removed and the owners need to get a No Further Remediation letter from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency before any development can proceed.

She also said they had been working with an architect and village of Brookfield staff, but that things were “still in the very preliminary stages.”

“We’re getting plans drawn up and seeing how to best utilize the space,” said McDonagh, who characterized the preliminary plan as “apartments.”

Emily Egan, the village of Brookfield’s community development director told the Landmark that the preliminary plan was for a four-story, mixed-use concept. Whether such a development is feasible without also obtaining the Brookfield Zoo property at 8947 Fairview Ave. or by vacating a portion Fairview Avenue is unclear.

“It’s a unique site,” Egan said. “I don’t see this being done without some sort of zoning process.”

According to McDonagh it would be their first attempt at multifamily residential development. They learned of the property, she said, because their son lives in Brookfield.

“It’s a nice village with a lot of potential,” McDonagh said.