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Brookfield Square plans emphasize light, outside entrances

Parking structure near Boston Store part of additions at mall

Dec. 11, 2013

Architects working on an expansion to Brookfield Square offered more specifics on the project at the Plan Commission meeting Monday and said stores would not be open until 2015.

Mall owner CBL & Associates Properties plans to finish construction and bring in tenants for the first phase, consisting of six stores opening on the east side of Sears Department Store, before the end of 2014 for an opening in spring of 2015. The second phase, with three stores on the north and east sides of Boston Store, would be done one or two years after that.

"It's great to be back in front of this group picking up on the momentum we started in 2005," said Craig Wasserman, executive vice president of KA Inc. Architecture, referencing previous expansions beginning with Brookfield Square and other buildings around the mall. "We always imagined Sears and Boston Store would help continue the story for the face on Moorland and now we're here presenting that concept."

The stores, each with their own outside entrance, abutting the mall but not attached to it, would vary in height and have multicolored awnings. They would have large windows on the ground level and translucent windows higher up, "so it will have a glow," Wasserman said.

"Sears is so dark, and this is really going to energize this side of the mall," Wasserman said.

The Plan Commission recommended a public hearing for Jan. 21 on the rezoning of the property to allow more flexibility in how close the mall can build new stores to existing stores and roadways.

In addition to allowing the proposed stores to be built close together, the rezoning could allow for further expansion closer to Moorland Road in the future. Although not currently proposed, Community Planning Director Dan Ertl said he has seen concept plans for restaurants closer to Moorland Road that wouldn't be allowed with the current zoning.

"I think this is a great step forward for the mall to keep the area vibrant and competitive with other malls," Plan Commission member Greg Kost said.

Parking retained

Additional parking spaces are planned to be built with each of the phases so the mall roughly retains the current parking ratio of 4.54 spaces per 1,000 square feet, according to Clif Poynter, working on the project with R.A. Smith National of Brookfield.

The first phase would add 20,000 square feet to the mall, but 8,000 of them would be cut out of Sears, reducing the impact on parking space. The second phase includes adding more than 450 parking spots in a parking deck connected to Boston Store and 111 spots in a new lot north of Firestone that's currently wooded.

Town square continues

The land eyed for the 111-stall parking lot is where the city had once hoped to build a town square area, like a "mini Cathedral Square," Ertl said. A previous development agreement with CBL includes a promise to give that land to the city if plans moved forward.

Ertl said that promise won't necessarily be lost. The city could ask to retain that promise in the new development agreement regarding the expansion.

"I don't think we'll abandon our desire to have that land at a future date," Ertl said. "We'll have to build into the development agreement that if we want the land, CBL will have to move those 111 spaces somewhere else."

Plans for the town square have hinged on the development of apartments and stores in underutilized parking lots of office buildings along Executive Drive, which runs west of the mall. Ertl said developers have not been biting at the chance to build there, but it could become more attractive in the future.

Steps ahead

After the public hearing, likely Jan. 21, the Plan Commission and Common Council will then be able to consider the rezoning request, detailed building plans and, ultimately, a development agreement, which could include some city funding through the tax incremental finance district on the mall.

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