By Bob Uphues
Oak Brook-based developer Michael Gatto's RMG Realty is pitching another construction project in downtown Brookfield, this time a mixed-use commercial/residential building in the 3700 block of Grand Boulevard.
Gatto confirmed his interest in developing the site at 3704-08 Grand Blvd., which presently is occupied by a non-descript, one-story brick office building. The V-shaped development would also include a parcel behind that building that fronts Sunnyside Avenue.
Purchase of the property is contingent on approval of the development, said Gatto, who will appear before the Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission on Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. at the Brookfield Village Hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave., to make his pitch to the village.
"I think the goal here is to create more demand in the downtown area," said Gatto, who recently completed a nine-unit apartment building at 8934 Fairview Ave. and is in the midst of plan review for a six-unit apartment building at 8917 Grant Ave.
"I'd love to work my way down Grand Boulevard and do more mixed-use if this is successful," Gatto added.
Conceptual plans of the three-story development provided by Gatto show the first floor would include a 2,750-square-foot commercial space along Grand Boulevard with a one-bedroom apartment and nine covered parking spaces facing Sunnyside Avenue.
The second and third floors would house one one-bedroom and four two-bedroom apartments. An outdoor roof garden/patio on the south side of the building would be accessible to two of the second-floor units, according to the plans.
One aspect of the project that is sure to complicate matters is that the assembled parcel straddles two different zoning districts. The Grand Boulevard commercial property is zoned SA-4a, a commercial designation that encourages mixed-use developments with ground-floor retail or office uses.
The adjacent Sunnyside Avenue property, meanwhile, is zoned SA-5, a residential classification that allows building of up to six stories with rear parking and front-facing facades.
As planned, the SA-5 parcel would have covered parking facing Sunnyside Avenue.
Gatto said that, on their own, the Grand Boulevard parcel and Sunnyside Avenue parcel are not deep enough to support two separate developments, and that the challenge was to pick a street to be the "façade" of the development. Gatto said it made the most sense to choose Grand Boulevard.
"We thought the Grand Boulevard side proved to be best from a commercial standpoint," Gatto said. "It's not deep enough to develop these parcels individually."
Nicholas Greifer, the village of Brookfield's community and economic development director, said Gatto's development likely would require a text amendment to the Station Area Zoning Code to accommodate a building that straddles two zoning districts.
"That's the main thing," Greifer said. "We have to harmonize that."
Gatto's proposed development is similar in many respects to one proposed for the same property back in 2005.
At that time, the present owner of the property pitched a four-story, mixed-use commercial/12-unit condominium building.
The village board had recently completed its 2020 Master Plan and the developer argued the building was in keeping with the direction of that planning document. At the time, the Zoning Board of Appeals had some trouble with the project's scale, density and, in particular, lack of sufficient parking.
A minority of the zoning board wanted the development to be reduced by one story, something the developer argued would make it not financially viable. In the end, a majority of the zoning board recommended granting four of five zoning variations – parking spaces continued to be a hang up -- and the proposed development never came to fruition.