Hotel and conference center planned at Brookfield Square

Mall owner also makes plans to revelop Sears store into movie theater, entertainment space

The Vanity store at Brookfield Square will close.

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 04:57 pm

The conference center and adjacent hotel that city of Brookfield officials have been working to develop is planned for a 9 acre site, previously owned by Sears, in the Brookfield Square Mall parking lot.

In addition, Chattanooga, Tennessee-based CBL & Associates Properties Inc., the owner of Brookfield Square, is developing plans to eventually convert the Sears store space at the mall into a 40,000-square-foot entertainment center space and a 45,000-square-foot movie theater.

The plans for the 34.6 acres of land formerly owned by Sears were shown during a break-out session Thursday at the Commercial Real Estate Wisconsin (CARW) ICSC retail conference.

Plans also show four new outlot buildings between 5,000 and 8,000 square feet. Two of the buildings are labeled “restaurant.”

Plans shown at CARW/ICSC conference
Plans shown at CARW/ICSC conference

Scott Oleson, Brookfield Square manager, said the tenants of the buildings and the operator of the movie theater and entertainment center have not yet been chosen.

In January, CBL & Associates purchased five Sears properties, including the Brookfield Square location, and two Sears Auto Centers in a sale-leaseback deal that gave the company the ability to plan for future development of the sites.

“The Sears parcel is 34 acres at the entire south end of Brookfield Square and CBL had been trying to buy that property for 10-15 years,” Oleson said.

Sears has struggled for years and its parent company, Sears Holdings, is closing 78 Kmart stores and 26 Sears stores this spring, but has not indicated any plans to close its store at Brookfield Square.

The Sears store at Brookfield Square is one of the mall’s three anchors and is located at the south end of the mall. It is 224,066 square feet on two levels.

The Sears Auto Center at Brookfield Square is located on an outlot where the conference center is currently planned, according to documents shown at the CARW conference.

The hotel and conference center will have about 600 parking spaces, according to the plans.

The Brookfield Public Works Committee will review plans for the hotel and conference center site on April 11 before it goes to the full Common Council April 18, said Dan Ertl, Brookfield’s community development director. Ertl would not comment further on the plans.

He said CBL had not yet submitted plans to the redevelopment of the Sears property to the city and referred questions to CBL.

“We’re evaluating a number of redevelopment scenarios for Brookfield Square, but it’s too soon to announce any concrete plans or tenant names,” said Stacey Keating, CBL spokesperson. “We’ll be excited to share more information as plans are finalized.”

The Vanity store at Brookfield Square will close.

Oleson said making changes to traditional retail space that is no longer working is the only way to keep malls viable.

“Obviously this is prime real estate for prime development,” Oleson said. “We are the landlord (for Sears) and we are moving full speed ahead.”

The city of Brookfield has been working on plans to build a 43,000-square-foot conference center and issue a request for proposal for a developer to build a 150- to 175-room hotel. A site had not publicly been named for the hotel or conference center.

The conference center will be financed by the city with a 25-year bond that will be repaid by revenue generated by Brookfield’s hotel room tax.

Meanwhile, plans to build new restaurants and shops in front of Boston Store, on the north end of Brookfield Square have been put on hold.

In January, CBL filed plans with the city for 53,440 square feet of new buildings and a new three-level parking garage with 425 spaces, west of Boston Store.

“It’s not totally dead, but it is on the back burner for now because we are in full control of (the Sears) site,” Oleson said.

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