Brookfield Square will get a makeover

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 11:00 am

Chattanooga, Tenn.-based CBL & Associates Properties Inc., the owner of Brookfield Square Mall, is making changes to the shopping center, and planning even more, to keep it competitive with other shopping centers in the area. The competition is getting tougher for Brookfield Square. To the east, Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa has many high-end shops and restaurants that draw shoppers from all over southeastern Wisconsin.

Mayfair has made several notable additions in recent years including the Cheesecake Factory, Crate and Barrel and Macy’s.

To the west Mayfair’s owner, Chicago-based General Growth Properties Inc., plans to build a 1 million square foot upscale shopping center in the Pabst Farms development at Highway 67 and I-94.

Brookfield Square isn’t sitting by complacently.

CBL & Associates Properties Inc. plans to renovate the mall inside and out and is developing the mall’s massive parking lots by adding new free-standing buildings for more stores and restaurants.

Construction is underway on two new restaurants and a high-end grocer on the north end of the mall property along West Bluemound Road. Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar and Abuelo’s Mexican Food Embassy will open later this year, said Scott Oleson, general manager of the mall. The Fresh Market, a high-end grocery store, is expected to open in March, near the intersection of Bluemound Road and Main Street, which runs to the west of the mall.

Mitchell’s Fish Market will open this spring near the mall’s east entrance, Oleson said. The national chain with a menu focusing on fresh seafood will have seating for almost 300 customers inside.

In space formerly used as loading docks on the east side of the mall between Sears and Bravo Cuccina, national chain restaurant Claim Jumper is planning to open a 11,700-square-foot restaurant, Oleson said. Claim Jumper has locations in California, Nevada, Colorado and Illinois, among others. The restaurant has not yet been approved by Brookfield’s Plan Commission and Common Council.

In addition, the east exterior of the mall will be renovated this spring, Oleson said, adding a new covered entrance while the mall’s façade is extended and renovated.

“We’re trying to get some height with the new east entrance, to make it a more welcoming doormat for our customers,” Oleson said.

CBL & Associates has not calculated a total price tag for the mall’s improvements, but Oleson said they are “significant.”

Renovations to the mall’s food court will start in March, Oleson said. An expansion will create space for Johnny Rockets, a 50’s-style hamburger restaurant chain. Interior renovations will add new tables and chairs and a fireplace in the food court.

To limit disruption for shoppers, most of the work will be done at night, Oleson said, and all stores will be open during the remodeling process.

With the addition of the restaurants and grocery store, the mall’s management is looking for ways to improve traffic circulation of customers. Shuttle service and valet parking are being considered, Oleson said.

“I think we’re going to wait and see how it goes (before deciding),” he said.

Sears, J.C. Penney’s and Boston Store, the mall’s anchor department stores, all own the spaces they occupy, including their parking lots. CBL hopes to acquire at least a portion of those parking lots for future development, which could include a parking garage.

“We’re aware of the need for (additional) parking and that development has been discussed and is being looked at,” he said.

A condominium development also could be included in the mall’s future, Oleson said. The parking structure and condo development remain in the conceptual stages and could be “a few years down the road,” he said.

While the mall’s ownership is focused on redeveloping its property, the city of Brookfield is working on making public improvements to the area to attract additional development.

The city created a tax incremental financing (TIF) district to fund streetscape and other public improvements in the area around the mall in 2004, said Dan Ertl, director of community development for the City of Brookfield. To date, the TIF has only funded land acquisition along Executive Drive to the north of the mall. Later, it will fund the redevelopment of Main Street to Brookfield city street standards, including the addition of curbs, gutters and parallel parking spots, Ertl said. It will also fund the creation of a park-like town center on the western portion of the mall property, he said. A developer agreement for the city to take ownership of the 2.9 acre parcel has been reached, however there is no specific timeline for the park or road’s development.

Renovations at the mall have been discussed for several years, Ertl said, and have likely sparked additional development in the area near Bluemound and Moorland Roads.

Fountain Square, a $26 million, 188,000-square foot-retail center was built in 2005 on the former site of a miniature golf range and driving range just north of Brookfield Square on Bluemound Road. Tenants include Bed Bath and Beyond, Cost Plus World Market and Circuit City.

The McDonald’s restaurant on Moorland Road, across the street from the mall, was recently rebuilt. A BP gas station just east of the mall is also being redeveloped, Ertl said. Several older restaurants on Bluemound Road to the west of the mall are also being redeveloped including a former Chi-Chi’s at 18355 W. Bluemound Road, which will be split in half, opening in early February as a Bonefish Grill and a new Carrabba’s Italian Grill.

Redevelopment in the area has also helped spur at least one recent high-profile real estate transaction.

Shoppes of Brookfield Commons, a 42,500-square-foot retail center at the southeast corner of Bluemound and Moorland roads, was sold in mid 2006 for more than $16 million, a figure that was “way above market value,” Ertl said.

“That’s partially because what (CBL) is doing across the street and partially because of demographics,” he said. “It’s also the strength of the retail market.”

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