In any Brookfield development, two brands are competing: the city's and the company's.
The city has a reputation for enforcing strict standards when it comes to what a building can and cannot look like and some on the Common Council have expressed concern that perhaps that restrictions have gone too far.
Two changes, both of which were heard before the council Tuesday, would take steps toward relaxing architectural and zoning standards to allow businesses more flexibility in branding their buildings as well as allow more businesses to have outdoor seating.
"We took a pretty strict view of everything, especially when it came to, for lack of a better word, strip malls because they're the retail center," explained Alderman and Plan Commissioner Gary Mahkorn.
"We get somewhat concerned that we don't want a hodgepodge of designs, and yet trade dress is becoming more and more important to corporations. It's a way of branding," he said.
The proposed zoning changes would allow certain corporate stores to bend architectural standards regarding the entryways to stay true to the corporate brand. For instance, Buffalo Wild Wings wants to bring a store to Brookfield, and their stores have a unique design.
Building a brand
Under the proposed ordinance, the Plan Commission would have more latitude to allow the restaurant room to brand its building.
"We're looking for a happy medium. We're not just going to open the flood gates and say, 'Ok whatever your corporate logos are or your styles we're just going to automatically approve," Mahkorn said.
"We also understand that there is economic environment out there that is changing and while we're not going to throw all of our standards into the garbage, we're going to relax them and still get the same product that we want to get."
When asked if Brookfield had become overly restrictive when it came to trade dress and building standards both Mahkorn and Mayor Steven Ponto insisted that there has to be a give and take.
"Brookfield is a very attractive place to do business, and people are willing to conform to our standards in order to have their business here," Ponto said.
"At the same time, I think we need to recognize the trends in retail."
Ponto pointed out that corporations have been accommodating in the past, citing McDonald's and the new Target store as examples. A major reconstruction of the McDonald's on Moorland Road has been a symbol of the kind of city Brookfield is hoping to brand itself as.
In other words, even the fast food restaurants in the city will be held to exacting standards.
"It's an evolution, and that's what I think we're looking at with this," Mahkorn added.
"I think it's good; I think it's healthy."
Outdoor seating on table
The other zoning change proposed to help relax restrictions on businesses has to do with outdoor seating. A year ago, the city approved outdoor seating for restaurants so long as it wasn't too near residential areas.
Following a request by Yo Mama, a new frozen yogurt restaurant in Ruby Isle, the city has suggested that setback requirements for restaurants be loosened to allow outdoor seating.
That means a restaurant like Yo Mama can have outdoor seating closer to the street than the actual building could be under the proposed change. Director of Community Development Dan Ertl said this law isn't just made for this case, but could benefit future businesses as well.
"This wasn't carved out only for Yo Mama," Ertl told the council as laughter drowned out the rest of his response after the unintentional wordplay.
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- Police Report: June 18
- Elmbrook surveys for satisfaction
- WisDOT to use Brookfield quarry as clean fill dump for seven years
- Ask NOW: Why can't 16-year-olds check out movies at the Brookfield Public Library?
- Elmbrook named top workplace
- Business Calendar: May 16-29
- Grab a Bite: Jake's: More than just steak and potatoes
- 'Starry Nights' at the Wilson Center starts June 21
- Tree crashes through Brookfield church roof during evening service
- Episcopal church remains vacant after split