Included in Brookfield's 2020 budget, which will be approved by the village board at their meeting in December, is a $100,000 line item to conduct a land-use plan and market analysis for Ogden Avenue in order to comprehensively guide redevelopment of the commercial corridor.
If such a plan has ever been attempted before, it's been decades and would be outdated. But we have the feeling nothing approaching the scope of what's being proposed has ever been contemplated.
And, quite frankly, it's long overdue.
Every two years, when it comes time for local election season, the subject of Ogden Avenue is evergreen. Everyone says they want new commercial development to take place along Ogden Avenue.
The trouble is, there's no coherent vision for it.
The closest the village has come, in recent years, to a plan for Ogden Avenue was the Brookfield 2020 Master Plan, adopted by the village board in 2004. That plan, however, looked at specific development sites at the Ogden Avenue gateways. What was envisioned for those sites – like a grocery store at Ogden and Eberly – never appeared feasible.
Part of the reason for that is that while the 2020 Master Plan drew up a wish list of sorts, it lacked a cohesive vision – one shared by village officials, commercial property owners and residents.
The Ogden Avenue land use plan being proposed would try to nail down exactly what kind of uses make sense – not just from a the perspective of residents' hopes for the corridor, but what actually is realistic given Ogden Avenue's limitations.
And that land use plan would also tackle zoning, to make it fit with the shared vision for its future.
These kinds of things don't happen overnight. It will take months to craft such a plan and it could take years to implement. The village is limited in what it can offer in terms of making development happen. There has to be interest from the development community and a willingness on the part of property owners to be open to change.
Having all of those gears working in harmony has been problematic for Brookfield and Ogden Avenue in the past.
With a fresh set of eyes on the challenges and with new village hall staff, who have experienced redevelopment along corridors like Ogden Avenue elsewhere, this may be an opportunity for Brookfield to free up the frozen gears that have marked past attempts at developing the district.
It's not an inconsiderable amount of money, so we also expect this process to be serious and realistic and one that will produce a roadmap for the future.
What does Ogden Avenue's future look like? Well, we know what its past has been, and residents need to determine whether that's good enough. And if it's not, they need to be open to some significant change, or else this effort will bear little fruit in years to come.