Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.
On a snowy winter's night last Thursday, a group of neighbors, District 7 Aldermen Lisa Mellone and Renee' Lowerr, Mayor Ponto, Community Development Director Dan Ertl, and some representatives from the Ryan Company gathered to discuss the changes the developer is requesting for the Underwood Crossing project.
Ryan Company's retail development director, Tony Barranco, explained the 4 changes to the approved plan and gave the reasons for the requests. All 4 seem very reasonable.
Though I have been in favor of the Target anchor store, at the Underwood Crossing Retail Center on Bluemound Road, I was wary when I heard they were requesting higher density.
But my fears were quickly alleviated. The request for the increased density from 35% to 40% is for the Jr. Anchor store adjacent to the Target only--not for the entire project. If you look at the drawing, you see the yellow is the original sizing, the red the requested size.
In fact, the density or Floor Area Ratio--F.A.R. (proportion of building structure to overall area) is well below the 30% standard. Underwood Crossing was approved at 16. If the increase in density for the Jr. Anchor is approved, it would be 17.2. If you notice the out buildings to the north, the Trader Joe's in right corner is now larger, but the Multi Tenant center building is about half its original size. The PNC bank to the west is smaller. (My adjustments in red are NOT to scale, and not yet approved, it is just so you get an idea of what they are asking for.)
The Jr. Anchor (still undisclosed but is some sort of home product store), is asking for an additional 5,900 square feet to be used mostly for merchandise storage, not retail floor. The additional space would be added to the east side of the building, with the majority to the back (loading area).
The other major issue is the request to increase the overall height of the light poles from 20' to 25'. Brookfield's standard is 20 feet. Here a 5' increase in pole height would result in 11 fewer light poles and less energy consumption. From what I could tell from the renderings Tony Barracano showed, the light pool would remain the same--in other words, here, they can do more with less. Because of the topography, the neighborhood is at a higher elevation than the retail center; the 5 foot increase shouldn't create a problem for the neighbors.
A 3rd request is to add Trader Joe's name to the monument sign on Bluemound. To me, Trader Joe's is the MAJOR attraction here. Target may be the largest anchor store, but Trader Joe's is the real star. Motorists should be able to see at a glance where the Trader Joe's entrance is. Trader Joe's logo is just their name in big red letters. It should go nicely with the Target. Ryan Company is not asking for a larger sign, just that Trader Joe's name be added.
I don't know if people realize what a feather in Brookfield's cap a Trader Joe's is for us. I know I have been wishing for one for some time. Evidently, Dan Ertl has been wooing them since they entered the Milwaukee market at Bay Shore.
Currently, that is the only Trader Joe's, and it is in a congested parking lot that is an accident waiting to happen. Still, people travel from more than 25 miles away just to shop at Bay Shore's Trader Joe's. I think we can safely conclude Brookfield's Trader Joe's will increase the success of every retailer located at Underwood Crossing. The least we can do is put their name on the sign!
The last item needing approval regards the berm. Initially, the berm's vegetation was not to be touched by the developer, but a section had to be cleared to connect to water. When the neighborhood saw how much better the berm looked after Ryan Co. restored the plantings with mixed evergreens, they wanted to see additional evergreen plantings incorporated into the berm. The neighbors are asking that undesirable trees such as Buckthorn and Box Alder be removed, and that Ryan replace with a variety of evergreens. They are willing to do this if they are granted the 25' light pole height variance. Ryan figures the money saved by using 11 fewer but taller poles would help pay for the $40,000+ additional evergreens to the original plan.
Bottom line: It is a case of give and take. From what I hear, Ryan Co. has been very receptive to the requests of the neighborhood. They helped clean up the former Quebecor site. They created a development that comes in well under the zoning FAR.
Their requests do not seem out of line to me for what we are getting. I hope it goes well for them with the Plan Commission and Common Council. Share your opinions at Brookfield City Hall Common Council Chambers Tuesday, January 17th at 7:45pm.
Submit your comments before the next Plan Commission meeting on Monday, January 23, 2012: I asked Alderman Mellone if comments could be emailed in, as we have in the past. She said yes. Send your comments to Alderman Lisa Mellone: firstname.lastname@example.org , Alderman Renee' Lowerr: email@example.com , Dan Ertl: firstname.lastname@example.org and/or Mayor Steve Ponto: email@example.com . After the Jan. 23rd Plan Commission meeting (if all goes well), Underwood Crossing Retail Center PDD goes before the Common Council for approval on February 7th. We are almost finished, but Dan Ertl informs me there would still be a "modest amendment to the project development agreement at a subsequent meeting".
Brookfield considers changes to development plan in advance of Trader Joe's Dec. 14, 2011
Public Hearing Notice
Past Posts: A Whole Lotta Diggin' Goin' On in SE Brookfield Aug. 24, 2011
Brookfield's proposed Target Store Public Hearing: Dec. 7, 7:45pm, UPDATE and maps Dec. 7, 2010
Can it be? A Target in Brookfield? How about a Trader Joe's too? March 12, 2010
In Praise of Aldi's AND Trader Joe's: Wish We Had Both! June 4, 2008
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