Developers presented their plans for two apartment buildings adjacent to Sendik's Towne Centre at a neighborhood information meeting Sept. 5.
Phillip Aiello, senior development manager for the Mandel Group, told about 40 people he believes "this development will meet with the same success as Norhardt Crossing," a development of apartments and condominiums adjacent to the Ruby Isle Shopping Center.
But many people who live near Sendik's Towne Centre voiced fears that the development could discourage prospective future buyers of their homes.
Mandel proposes a three-story building with 36 residential units and a two-story building with 24 units just south of Towne Centre, both with underground parking. The 24-unit building would be at the southwest corner of Thomson Drive and Brookfield Road, while the 36-unit building would be at the northeast corner of Thomson Drive and Richland Parkway.
Office market 'soft'
Daniel Ertl, the city of Brookfield's director of community development, said Towne Centre was "our first mixed-use urban center. We still believe it's a great neighborhood."
The developer is requesting amendments to the original Planned Development District ordinance for Towne Centre, to build a 36-unit three-story building instead of a two-story building with 44 apartments, and to build the 24-unit building instead of the office building that was originally planned. Several neighbors are unhappy the office building proposal was scrapped.
"The office market in general is soft, particularly along Capitol Drive," Ertl said.
Bob Monnat, chief operating officer of Mandel, said mixed-use developments are among the preferred real estate investments for banks.
"They don't want to make loans on office buildings," Monnat said. "They don't necessarily want to make loans on retail" or subdivisions in outlying areas.
High-end apartments planned
Mandel representatives said the apartments would built with "condominium-quality" materials. Monthly rents were projected at $1,400 for one-bedroom apartments and $1,800 to 2,000 for two-bedroom apartments. They said they intend to complete both buildings in 2015.
Aiello said that at Norhardt Crossing "the median annual income is north of $105,000. Those figures are very comparable to the demographics of the city." He pointed out that 53 percent of Brookfield residents were older than 45 in 2010, compared to only 35 percent in 1980.
"As people grow older, become empty-nesters, they need housing options to stay in Brookfield," Aiello said. "We want to provide people the option of staying in their community."
However, "this is not a senior center, this is not senior housing," he added.
Dave Rein, a resident of the nearby Muirwood subdivision, said traffic has grown steadily during the 15 years since he moved to the area, shortly before the Sendik's Towne Centre was built.
"It's less quiet; there's more traffic," Rein said. "This is supposed to be a walkable development, but nobody walks. I think it's going to be much harder for me to sell my home if this congestion continues to grow."
As for Mandel's description of the age and income levels of prospective tenants, "I don't have a concern about the type of people, just the number."
WHAT: public hearing on Sendik's Towne Centre apartments proposal
WHEN: 7:45 p.m. Sept. 17
WHERE: City Hall, 2000 N. Calhoun Road
ETC.: The proposal then moves to the Plan Commission for review. The Common Council is not expected to vote on the matter until October.
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