Brookfield rejects $33.7 million development with Wheel & Sprocket, apartments

The plan for the building was rejected by Brookfield officials after a long and intense meeting.

Brookfield rejects $33.7 million development with Wheel & Sprocket, apartments

After a long and sometimes combative meeting, Brookfield officials voted 11-3 to reject plans for a Capitol Drive apartment complex worth $33.7 million that would be anchored by a Wheel & Sprocket.

If the developer team wants to pursue the project, they will have to start from scratch and create a brand new plan. The latest proposal, for 75 apartments at market rate in a 4-story building, was one of many design concepts that were presented over the last two years to try and gain approval.

Joseph Lak is a principal at The Heimat Group. He said that the rejection of the project Tuesday by Brookfield's Common Council was disappointing to the team, considering the 5-1 votes in previous city committee meetings for approval.

Lak stated, "We hope to communicate with Common Council Members in the months ahead and find a way forward that balances both our project goals and the concerns of the Community."

The Heimat Group, based in Glendale, is a project partner of Wheel & Sprocket. The Kegel family, who own Wheel & Sprocket, began planning to replace the existing store on Capitol Drive and Lilly Road. The Kegel family also purchased a former auto repair shop in the neighborhood.

The car repair property was contaminated. This increased the price of a newly developed development around the corner. Wheel & Sprocket pursued the larger mixed-use project with Heimat Group. The proposed building has a ground floor for Wheel & Sprocket, as well as other retailers. Upper levels will have market-rate apartment.

Noel Kegel, president of Wheel & Sprocket, sent letters to encourage people to express their support before the Brookfield Common Council Meeting.

This letter stated that a small number of residents had taken offense at the project. The Common Council was being influenced to block it. The project is up for approval Tuesday, May 2. I am afraid I do not have the votes.

In its resolution, the Common Council rejected the project plan because the building was too tall, the setbacks were seven feet narrower than the city's current standard, and the density of the property and surrounding area was too high.

Brookfield Ald. Scott Berg, one of 11 people who voted against this proposal, said that the contamination on site would not improve by itself.

Berg stated that he did not see the situation as binary. 'We won't make everyone happy, for sure. But what are the best ways to keep a neighborhood safe, to maintain its character, to keep children safe and not to have a blighted house?'

Berg's comments came at the end of an over three-hour discussion on the project during Tuesday's Common Council Meeting.

Mike Hallquist gave a long statement just before the vote. He was interrupted twice by an alderman who used profane language. Hallquist stated that he was 'not sure if there is a better project', given the difficulties of the site. Hallquist was one of three aldermen to vote in favor of this development.

Hallquist stated, 'I believe we can send out a message to the community that the Common Council is reasonable, consistent, and thoughtful in their approach to adjudicating the development proposals that are submitted. This acknowledges that a compromise must be made between what the residents want and what the market will provide.

The Common Council put off a proposal for a tax-incremental financing district. This TIF district was supposed to cover about $3.5 Million of the costs associated with the environmental clean-up for the property.

According to the proposal, developers would spend money on cleanup. The TIF district could use new property tax revenues generated by the development in order to repay up to $3.5million.

The TIF proposal is put on hold after the property's rezoning was rejected. The TIF proposal could still be revised or reconsidered if the developers can secure the support of the city for a revised property plan by early September.