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.
Click caption box at left of slide show for captions and dates
Elm Grove's new Culver's restaurant is conducting interviews at their new location on Bluemound Road this Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012, from noon to 4pm. Or as Culver's would say, "Come join our True Blue Crew as a Team Member!"
If the major road construction on Bluemound Road, just east of Pilgrim Road and westward, has kept you from the area, you might not have realized a Culver's sprang up from the rubble of the razed UNO's restaurant this summer.
It has been fun to watch the building progress. I snapped the above picture on Aug. 9th; they are now working on finishing the exterior.
The new Culver's is on the northeast corner of Pilgrim and Bluemound, just east of Baker's Square. (Brookfield Square is on the opposite southwest corner.)
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.
If you haven't had occasion to travel on Bluemound Road on Brookfield's southeast side lately, you might not know that there's A Whole Lotta Diggin' Goin' On down here!
If traveling from east to west, the former Quebecor site is getting its clean up in preparation for Underwood Crossing, where the Target store slated for opening in fall of 2012. (The dirt heap has grown considerably since I snapped this pic in July.)
If you recall, there was a mixed use plan for the site proposed back in 2007 that fell through. This included apartments and lots of small shops.
Would you want to help non-resident drivers cut through your neighborhood, just so they could get to a new proposed shopping center without using your closest busy main streets? Of course not.
Yet the Plan Commission and our City is doing just that with the new Target store proposal for the former Quebecor site on Bluemound, at the Brookfield/Wauwatosa border. Take a look.
The planners are promoting an additional, unnecessary, new street access point, running east/west from Columbia Blvd, (a purely residential street) to (and through) the new shopping center, when there is already adequate access from Bluemound Road!
And why are they pushing this? One reason is for people who might be playing baseball at Krueger Park, who MIGHT want to go to the new Target store after a game. They argue they need an easy way to get there from the park. (Rendering is from Ryan Co., the developer.)
So our planners, and some of the Aldermen on the Common Council, are willing to subject a quiet, single family, residential neighborhood to cut through traffic from the south, for all those who want to avoid the Bluemound and Elm Grove Road intersection. This would include Target Store bound traffic from Greenfield Ave to the south.
Who doesn't want this? Obviously, the neighborhood! But also the developer, Ryan Company.
It is my understanding that Ryan wants something that more closely resembles my cut-and-past efforts pictured here. Yellow indicates existing streets, orange would be new access with arterial lights on Bluemound. (Thanks to MapQuest satellite view and Ryan's rendering.)
Note that Columbia Blvd. does connect to Krueger Park. It would be very simple for those baseball players (who might want to shop after a game) to drive north on Columbia, turn right on Bluemound, travel 300 feet east to the new Target entrance, turn right, drive in and park.
As for the neighborhood itself, there are Greenway Trail connections for walking and biking there and from my neighborhood south of I-94. This system would also connect to the Trails in Wauwatosa. So there is pedestrian and bike access without using Bluemound Road.
This Public Hearing is primarily to change the LAND USE from Mixed to Retail. Remember the original plan was for high density housing? Translate: apartments. Believe me, Brookfield and the neighborhood is far better off with this being purely retail / business such as the Target, a restaurant and a bank. Brookfield doesn't need more apartments or condos that do not contribute enough in tax revenue to support the schools or services they use.
I might remind our new Mayor Ponto that he told me he had a strong desire to protect the single family home's property values. I would like to see Mayor Ponto take a leadership role in this and protect this neighborhood from this unwanted and unnecessary intrusion.
Please help your fellow Brookfield residents preserve their neighborhood from unwanted non-neighborhood related traffic by commenting tonight at the Common Council Public Hearing or emailing your comments to Lisa@betterbrookfield.com (She will forward them.) The Council will vote on this December 21st.
My Aldermen Lisa Mellone and Renee' Lowerr sent the following information in an email:
From my 2 Aldermen, Lisa Mellone and Renee Lowerr: There is a District 7 Information Meeting this Thursday at City Hall Council Chambers, from 7 - 8pm. (District 7 covers the southeast corner of Brookfield.)
They hold these meetings several times a year and are your opportunity to ask questions, discuss your concerns, and talk about your ideas for our city. Some of the current topics are the
Target Store proposal, Train Station, and the 2011 budget.
Since the election is less than 2 weeks away, remember we no longer vote at Heritage Christian School, but instead must go to St. Lukes Catholic Church on Greenfield Avenue and Davidson Road, west of our district.
Related Past Posts: Is a Target on Bluemound & 124th to be or not to be?
So thankful the Brookfield train station question has been delayed
Email Aldermen & More re: Brookfield train station
Stop the Obama & Doyle waste-of-money train
Quebecor Target Store at Plan Commission tonight
Can it be? A Target in Brookfield? How about Trader Joes too?
While shopping at Angelina's Deli, my favorite Italian food store on this side of town, I noticed some construction workers across the street at the former Pilgrim Square.
Wow, something is finally going in at the vacant Sticks and Stones restaurant, just south of Dixon Elementary School, on North Avenue.
My Aldermen Lisa Mellone and Renee Lowerr informed me that there are 2 meetings tonight at City Hall discussing plans to build a Target store at the old Quebecor site.
The 124th & Bluemound Road Neighborhood Plan Task Force meets first in Council Chambers at 5:30pm. They are "to discuss possible amendments to the Neighborhood Plan because of the Target proposal." If you remember, there was another mixed use plan in place 4 years ago, but that project did not move forward.
In my opinion, the neighborhood, which is in my District 7 but not my immediate area, would be better off without the apartment/condo aspect of the project. Certainly our city already has enough rental property, which is often the downfall of the adjacent single family homes and community.
Brookfield also has an abundance smaller store strip malls, which are part of the mixed use concept. How many nail salons, take and bake pizza places, and coffee shops do we need? Brookfield Marketplace on Greenfield and Brookfield Commons on Bluemound have never been completely occupied since their completion and since the recession, have seen stores leave. At another area strip mall at Calhoun and Bluemound, the former Flanners has been vacant for years.
It would seem that if you have a larger store, with a good reputation, willing to move into Brookfield, this would be a better option that all those transient smaller stores. The neighbors have a legitmate concern with shoppers cutting through their neighborhood, but like Brookfield Commons, this area is rather land-locked too, with the freeway and parks to the south--it wouldn't seem to invite cut-through traffic. Yet the general consensus from a 2006 Plan Commission meeting was, "don't allow the new development traffic to invade their peaceful Columbia Gardens Subdivision Neighborhood!" Neighborhood traffic needs to be controlled.
While I would rather have a Woodman's or a Trader Joes move into that location, Target at least has a nicer image than other big box stores like K-mart and Walmart. Target seems to attract a different, more upscale clientele than the other stuff-marts.
If you live in that area, do attend the 5:30pm meeting.
Right after the Task Force discussion, the City Plan Commission will discuss this same project. "This is an open meeting and [all] are welcome to attend but there will be no opportunity for public comment."
There will be a future Public Hearing on the Target proposal amendments where you can voice your opinions, however.
While the jobs created from a Target are not high paying, at least Target would be a more consistent job and property tax provider than the coffee shop that is here today and gone in a month.
Alderman Lisa Mellone attached related materials for your perusal:
City 124th Street & Bluemound Road Neighborhood Plan
Map of Target Development Proposal
Target Memo from Ryan Company.pdf
936K View Download
|2010-07-12 Plan Commission Minutes re Target.pdf
|10-11-2010 Task Force Staff Report.pdf
|PC Agenda 2010-10-11.doc
|PC Staff Report 2010-10-11.doc
Quebecor Target Store at Plan Commission tonight, 4K Tuesday, Bike Race Friday
Can it be? A Target in Brookfeild? How about a Trader Joes too?
Connectivity will make neighborhood streets a racetrack! Neighborhood concerns over traffic from the Plan Commission 2006 Plan Public Comment session.
Alderman Lisa Mellone sent me the notice on the Target Store and Bike Race. A reader alerted me to the discussion of 4K at Elmbrook's School Board meeting.
Quebecor Target Store Project, Brookfield Plan Commission, 6pm tonight
"A concept review of the proposed Target Store development on the old Quebecor site is scheduled for this Monday, July 12th, 6pm in Council Chambers at City Hall. At this point the applicant is seeking feedback from the Plan Commission on the proposal at their meeting. "
This project has changed considerably from the former mixed use project, of housing and smaller retail, that fell through for the Quebecor site in 2007.
Even the original Ryan Cos proposal had a senior housing possibility, but that has changed too--at least from Ryan's perspective. JSOnline: Plan for new Brookfield Target on Blue Mound Road advance: "Ryan executives considered including senior apartments as part of the development. But that was dropped in favor of doing just retail, along with some expanded green space along the portions of the site that border N. Columbia Blvd. and Krueger Park... ...The green space would likely be donated to the city, the plan said."
Since Ryan Cos'. plan calls for a Target Store with grocery and a few other retail stores-- no housing--the City will have to revisit the plan to approve of the site being solely retail to move it forward.
Elmbrook School Board Meeting, Tuesday, July 13, 6pm at Central Administrative Offices
The Enrollment Management Study Team will give a report on their findings. (Item 3A on Agenda) Suggestions include ADDING 4K, closing a school and ADDING 4K, and more. With the new school funding changes (not favorable to Elmbrook), I am sure we want to keep an eye on these suggestions!
School Funding Plan Could Hurt
State Schools Chief Proposes Revamp of Funding System
Cycling Classic Bike Race, July 16th, City of Brookfield Civic Center
This looks like fun. On Friday, July 16th, Brookfield's Civic Center roads will be closed to serve as the track for several bike races during the day! Events start at 9:30am and the last race begins at 5:45pm.
The Convention and Visitors Bureau was looking for volunteers to serve as race marshals. If you are interested in helping, contact Nancy Justman at 262-789-0220 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional information can be found at International Cycling Classic
Well, it is back to the grindstone for me, or more specifically, sanding Spackle in my kitchen.
Oh, my goodness! The City of Brookfield is actually talking about a TARGET store in Brookfield?
It is almost too good to be true. But there it was in black and white on JSOnline.
According to the March 11th Business section, Developer hopes to bring Target, senior apartments to Brookfield.
Last week BrookfieldNOW reported Major projects falter in down economy, Percheron Square nearing deadline for moving ahead. While I don't wish financial troubles on anyone, I can't say I am sorry to hear these two projects fell through.
I was squarely against both Fountain Brook Crossing and Percheron Square because they both exceeded the original zoning density, Fountain Brook by far was the worst offender.
But as I drove down Greenfield last week, I couldn't help but notice another location where the project fell through. I saw a for sale sign (in photo) on the old Sentry grocery store site at Greenfield Ave. and Calhoun Rd. That original grocery store, as I understand it, was prevented from expanding by the city. Then in late 2003, early 2004(?) a new strip mall was proposed that was in the newer Modified Suburban Overlay configuration, with parking right up to the residences back yards to the north. That was defeated in a rare city hall fight that resolved in favor of the neighborhood. Then there was a proposal for an acceptable strip mall that had the standard parking in the front- shops in the back design. Neighbors liked it but the city balked because it wasn't fancy enough. At last another strip mall was proposed, was it called Deer Creek Commons or something like that? That was favored by the neighborhood and the city. Alas, it is not to be. The economy did it in?
Many of us in Brookfield believe our community is getting overcrowded and over-saturated with unnecessary development projects. Since we cannot maintain occupancy on what we already have, and traffic on busy streets such as Bluemound and Capital Drive and even Greenfield is already problematic, why increase the density each time a new proposal comes our way? (Increased density increases profit for the developer.)
This photo is of the former Flanners on Bluemound. It has been empty for several years now.
Imagine my surprise. The 2035 Vision Implementation Comment Form I filled out at the library over a week ago stated in bold black letters: The deadline for providing comments is Monday, August 10th.
The library had a display with the various areas of "Vision" for Brookfield's future illustrated on large poster boards. There were also comment forms and a wooden box to collect the forms on a table front and center as you walked into the library.
Late Saturday afternoon, I stopped in for some music CDs and was going to look at the 2035 Vision renderings and information again, but it all had vanished!
I asked at the circulation desk what happened to the display and was informed that "they" took it away on Friday (Aug. 7).
But, if you still wanted to throw in your 2 cents regarding the 2035 Vision Implementation Comment Form, as seen at the library and Brookfield Square, know that the library comment box is no longer there to receive it. I would guess City Hall would still be accepting the forms? (They were closed at the time I discovered the collection box and display were gone.) You might want to call City Hall to verify they will accept your comment form: 262-782-9650. The form is available online for you to print out. Their fax number is 262-796-6671.
According to the City's website, there will still be 4 Open Houses in September "to get direct input from the public into the City's vision for the future." The notice talks about sending in your comment form to the City's planning consultant next month, so I don't know what the August 10th deadline was all about.
Please know that the input they are looking for is all in the positive. You are to select 5 things that are important to you. There is no way that I could see to object to any of the specific initiatives except to not check that vision.
Past Post: Voice your opinion on rail & Master Plan at National Night Out tonight
Tonight is the National Night Out at Brookfield's Safety Building and Civic Plaza, 5:30 - 8:30 pm. Not only are there some fun family activities offered, but there is also an opportunity to voice your opinion on Brookfield's future initiatives.
You can also fill out a comment form at the Brookfield Library. Deadline for submissions is August 10th. The 2035 Comprehensive Plan, will be adopted by the Common Council at year's end.
Some of the items on the 2035 Vision Implementation Comment Form (feedback form) are rather benign. Others are hot button issues. Here are some of mine in the order they appear on side 2. My position is in red.:
- Establish a new Targeted Investment Area along the 124th Street corridor from Burleigh Road to North Avenue. (I am against if it involves a tax district and usurps property owners rights.)
- Take a supportive approach to historic preservation including educational and persuasive (not coercive) efforts, and at all times supporting the rights of property owners. (I am for this. Saving the Siepmann home is an example of a supportive role.)
- Support the completion of an Environmental Impact Study (EIS), through an open, public process, to study the feasibility, locational options, impacts, and design options of a future interchange from Interstate 94 between the two that now exist. (I am against a Calhoun Rd. exit.)
- Support future high speed intercity rail service connecting Minneapolis - Madison - Milwaukee - Chicago and beyond, provided that a station in Brookfield is maintained and funded in state and federal plans. (Note: This is not the same as commuter or light rail.) (I am AGAINST rail in any form because it requires taxpayer subsidies and is NOT practical for most travelers.)
After years of disappointing decisions regarding development in our city, I almost can't believe that the Common Council voted unanimously, 13-0* to allow the Siepmann Farmstead to stay last night. They did it with no discussion!
In so many past cases, the will of the people has been ignored. Capitol Heights comes to mind. That one was B.B., before I started blogging. Then there was TID 3. Many spoke out against that one at a plan commission meeting. It passed anyway. How about the heartbreak of widening Calhoun Road south? Maybe those examples are what make saving the Siepmann such a pleasant surprise.
The only hurdle remaining is an economic one. Will the developer 4S be able to make the changes he has proposed in this economy? I certainly hope so. As I stated before, the concept of a wedding center seems to be a good fit for the property.
A BIG thanks to the 13 Aldermen, Lisa Mellone in particular, the Elmbrook Historical Society, the blogs and articles on the historic farmhouse, Dan Ertl (I don't often get to thank him), the board of appeals, the plan commission, Chicago Title, for providing the title search free of charge to the Elmbrook Historical Society, and of course, 4S, the developer, for being open to the will of the people! (I probably forgot a few.)
I am grateful for the person who first put together that the demolition of the barn, noted in the first article, was really the farmhouse and for the Elmbrook Historical Society member who brought the issue to Cindy's and my attention.
You know, as a blogger, I often wonder if what I am posting will help or hinder an effort. In this case, I am delighted it turned out positively.
*Alderman Bob Reddin was not present. He was attending to a more important development, the birth of his new daughter!
Past Posts: Stonewood Village's Siepmann farm on chopping block at Tuesday's Common Council meeting
How much to raze Siepman Home?
Saving the Siepmann Farm House just jumped another hurdle
If you have been following the save the Siepmann Farm House issue at Brookfield's Stonewood Village, you know that back in May, it looked like it would join the scrap heap of Brookfield's historic buildings. In my May 18th post, Stonewood Village's Siepmann farm on chopping block at Tuesday's Common Council meeting, I asked, "...can't we find some way to save the Siepmann farmstead and still do the wedding center?" and then urged that readers contact their aldermen.
The Siepmann Farm Homestead is a good example of a reader suggested blog topic. The morning of May 18th, someone sent me an email regarding moving or razing the Siepmann home. Since I thought it a worthy topic, I blogged about it.
Stonewood Village, a Brookfield shopping center consisting of historic and period reproduction homes and buildings, is in the process of undergoing major changes, with an emphasis on weddings. The problem is, the historic Siepmann building*, circa 1856, stands in the way of the newly proposed and approved of building plans:
Oh I know nothing ever stays the same, but I don't want to see the Blue Mound Pick 'n Save go. It was my favorite* Pick 'n Save store! Pick 'n Saves underwent a face lift in recent years, and in the process of trying to emulate a more V. Richards look in the stores and produce department, they eliminated refrigerator cases for their apples. Consequently, purchasing crisp apples became more challenging. The Blue Mound store was one of the few that still kept their apples chilled--if I was buying apples at nearly $2/pound, that is where I shopped.
Several weeks ago, the sign was for Linens and Things going out of business sale. Last year it was Comp USA. Now it is Circuit City's turn. Who will be next?
Well, today is the day. After months of discussion and remodeling, the new Aldi store opens its doors today at 19555 W. Bluemound Road.
Recession proof businesses
My 2 aldermen, Lisa Mellone and Renee' Lowerr, sent out an email that there will be an information meeting on Percheron Square tonight, from 6-7pm at City Hall in Council Chambers. If you are interested in this development project, this would be a good opportunity for you to find out more. (Sorry this is late, I have been having computer troubles.)
How about that turn around? I noticed on Community Watch the Town of Brookfield approved Aldi's! Unanimously!
Gravel piles, backhoes, trucks, sewer suckers, barricades, sewer pipes and huge concrete junction pipes again are familiar sights for those living on Robinwood Street. Seems like the city just did sewer work over there.
I have shopped ALDI's for years now. It all started with "Big Tom" ketchup. We were a very brand loyal "Heinz" ketchup family and would not ever consider anything else on a burger. But a bargain hunting uncle of mine loved to shop at Aldi's and he would share the wealth with family. He gave us several "Big Tom" ketchups from Aldi's. Oh well, I can use them in meat loaf or something, I thought.
The Commission OKs plans for Ruby Farms site. What I find so frustrating with our Plan Commission is that they grant PDDs and project proposals so easily. Oh, they raise all sorts of questions and concerns, but then vote as if with one "Aye."
I hate to admit it, but it took me a while to figure out why VK Development would name the Ruby Farm/WTMJ project Percheron Square. The light bulb finally lit. (Somehow I thought the Ruby Farm horse barns housed Belgians instead of Percherons.)
Poor Aldi's*. The Town of Brookfield Plan Commission squelched their plans for a new store. One of the reasons cited in the Community Watch post was that, "Some members of the Plan Commission said they were wary of the discount
grocer's reputation and the type of customers and tenants the store
would attract to Bluemound Plaza..." (near Best Buy)
It is watering restriction season for Waukesha County, but in Brookfield, lawn watering, pool filling, and car washing* is restricted whether you are on a private well or municipal water every day of the year.
Update: I heard the Plan Commission meeting was well attended. If I hear anything more, I will post the info.
Fellow blogger Janet Wintersberger recently echoed my sentiments that the Plan Commission rarely seems to listen to resident comments regarding development.
Remember the old TV game show, To Tell the Truth? The panel of celebrities was to guess which of the 3 contestants was the real person who had done some unusual or heroic act. One of the 3 was the real person, the other 2 would try to mislead the panel. At the end, the game host would say, Would the real So-in-so, please stand up. Then the real person would stand, sometimes surprising everyone.
My Alderman, Lisa Mellone, is really great about keeping her District 7 constituents informed of upcoming issues. She sent this District 7 update last night. (I posted her entire update on Brookfield7.) The 3 development issues should be of interest to all Brookfield residents.
I hope you took the time to look at the architect's renderings of Fountain Brook Crossing. But keep in mind, it is nearly impossible to imagine just how BIG this set of proposed buildings is simply by looking at those drawings. They are presented using the roadway to give some sense of open space and perspective.