By Bob Uphues
A real estate developer who has partnered with a local home-building firm to construct a nine-unit apartment building in downtown Brookfield, says the village's new Station Area Zoning code has driven his decision to build another rental building there.
Michael Gatto, of Oakbrook Terrace-based RMG Realty Group, says he is in line to close on the vacant parcel of land at 8917 Grant Ave. in January, and should break ground on a new six-unit apartment building shortly afterward.
On Nov. 9 at a developer breakfast hosted by Brookfield officials, Gatto told the Landmark his decision to build again in the village largely was driven by the zoning overhaul approved in January, which spells out exactly what kinds of developments the village wants to attract in the area bordered by the BNSF train line and streamlines the approval process.
"It's just so pro-development, that I don't know why I would go somewhere else and struggle through an approval process," Gatto said.
RMG Realty in 2016 partnered with BrightLeaf Homes to build a nine-unit apartment building at 8934 Fairview Ave. According to Gatto, two of the nine units have been pre-leased, one lease is slated to begin on Dec. 15 and the other on Jan. 1.
Rents for one-bedroom units in the Fairview Avenue building, which is still under construction, start at $1,350 per month, said Gatto, while two-bedroom units are starting at $1,900 and three-bedrooms at $2,300.
Gatto said the Fairview Avenue building design, from a layout standpoint, can be modified easily into a six-unit building that will fit on the Grant Avenue site. The exterior design of the new building, he said, would probably be more muted to fit better into what is more of a residential zone on the northern boundary of downtown Brookfield.
"It a basic plan I know works and fits into the zoning modernization [plan]," Gatto said. "It'll be a similar product."
The apartment building fits in with a plan by Brookfield officials to encourage higher-density development near the village's three train depots. The central core of the downtown district, near the Prairie Avenue station, would allow mixed-use buildings of up to six stories.
Gatto won approval for a nine-unit building on Fairview Avenue back in June 2014 after a five-month long process under the village's former planned-unit development process.
But the project stalled after Gatto experienced difficulty financing the project. Two years later, with BrightLeaf Homes as a partner, he re-approached the village with an updated plan. The village expedited the approval process and the village approved it a little more than two months later. The development finally broke ground in March.
Had he faced a similar approval process for a new development, said Gatto, he would have looked elsewhere.
"I would have went to a different town," Gatto said.