A downtown Brookfield building that once housed the village’s post office and the postmaster’s family, is being redeveloped and will house two to three ground-floor storefronts and six second-floor apartments, its owner says.
Andy Kwak and his brother, Chester, purchased the adjacent two-story buildings at 3741-43 and 3745 Grand Blvd. plus the vacant lot at 3737 Grand Blvd. in February 2021 for $80,000 from the McCracken Family Trust.
The storefronts had most recently housed a martial arts studio, a security business and a dental office, while the second floor was a residential unit used by the former owner.
“I don’t think many people saw much potential, because there was just so much going on in here,” Andy Kwak said. “So, we just stripped everything out of here.”
The property had been listed in February 2020 at $399,900, but the interior condition put off potential buyers. After three price reductions, the Kwak brothers decided to take a chance.
“The price was right,” said Kwak, whose construction company AKC Services also recently rehabbed a mixed-use building in Summit. “It was a rehab building, plus it had a lot of potential.”
This is the second mixed-use building renovation for the company, Kwak said, and it will take close to another year to complete all of the work. The interior of the property is being demolished almost completely, down to the brick walls.
The building will have all new plumbing, electrical and heat/air-conditioning systems. The six apartments – two one-bedroom and four two-bedroom units – will have open plan kitchen/living areas and one full bath.
Apartments facing Grand Boulevard will have large sliding glass doors overlooking the downtown, while some apartments in the rear will have access to balconies.
While apartment occupancy won’t be in the cards until probably sometime late next summer, said Kwak, he may start marketing the storefronts sooner. New second-floor windows were installed last week, with first-floor windows to follow soon.
Kwak is putting new bathrooms in each of the three potential storefront spaces – he said he could combine the 3741 and 3743 Grand Blvd. storefronts, if needed – but will leave the blank box for future commercial tenants to build out as they see fit.
As for the facades of two formerly separate buildings, they have been altered so much through the decades that Kwak is seeking to unite them by overlaying a three-quarter inch stone veneer on the ground floor storefronts and painting the brick second story gray.
One wildcard thrown into the exterior renovation was the removal of a mansard-type shingle awning that had bisected the façade of both buildings horizontally. That awning had hidden original stone relief panels that serve as arches over the window and door openings of the façade of 3745 Grand Blvd.
The building was constructed around 1930 as the Mansfield Funeral Home, which remained in business through at least the mid-1950s. Its owner, James Mansfield, was Brookfield village president in the early 1930s. Originally a one-story building, a second-floor addition was plopped on top of the storefront sometime after 1953.
Kwak said he is trying to figure out a way to preserve those decorative panels, two appearing to represent eternal flames, which sustained damage when the mansard awning was installed and which had to be altered to accommodate the new second-floor windows.
That may depend on input from village planning staff, since the façade renovation is being paid for in part through a Property Improvement Program (PIP) grant, approved by village trustees in September for $20,000.
The building at 3741-43 Grand Blvd. was built in 1922, with the 3743 Grand Blvd. storefront housing the Brookfield Post Office until 1936 and a second-floor apartment housing the postmaster’s family, according to a 2004 history of the post office written by Chris Stach and published in the Landmark.
It appears the building was extended to the rear soon after, because Kwak found a heap of newspapers dating to August, September and October 1923 stuffed behind a wall, apparently for insulation, in the basement.