EIGHT CORNERS SUBAREA
The Eight Corners intersection is comprised of Grand Boulevard, Maple Avenue, Broadway Avenue, and Washington Avenue, which meet at a unique intersection dominated by a landscaped roundabout. Each street segment or spoke houses a variety of land-uses ranging from single-family residences to commercial uses. Eight Corners is an active and popular shopping area surrounded by stable neighborhoods and Gross Middle School.
The Eight Corners Subarea has a diverse mix of commercial, retail, and office uses, many of which can be classified as neighborhood commercial, including a grocery store, bank, and dry cleaner. The majority of these uses are found on Broadway and Maple Avenues, north of the circular intersection. The most common housing type in this area is the single-family home, although a few multi-family units exist in the area. Residences surround the intersection making it a popular area for shopping, particularly for convenience goods and services. Residents listed three of the Eight Corner’s businesses, Tischler’s, Osco, and Ace Hardware, among the top five weekly shopping destinations in and around Brookfield. Tischler’s, Osco, and the First National Bank of Brookfield serve as business anchors for the Eight Corners Subarea, and all but Osco are locally owned and operated.
The commercial streets in the Eight Corners Subarea, all of Broadway Avenue and Maple Avenue north of the circle, are designated C3 Centralized Commercial District, the same designation as the Brookfield Station. The remainder of the Subarea is divided into three residential zones, two single family detached and one multi-family district. The C-3 zoning classification does permit some uses that are more auto-oriented than pedestrian friendly, such as gas stations, despite being designed to foster pedestrian-oriented commercial districts. As previously stated in the Brookfield Station Subarea section, upper story residential uses are permitted and all residential units require two parking spaces per unit.
The appearance of an area’s buildings plays a large role in the opinion first time visitors form as they travel through an area. In an area like the Eight Corners, the corner The buildings along the spokes of a roundabout, while less obvious, should be constructed to draw one’s attention and interest down the corridor.
The majority of the commercial buildings in the Eight Corners area are older buildings; they are built up to the street, have large storefront windows, and many have recessed entries. These buildings are predominantly one-story and many have undergone façade renovations with similar effects as the renovations in the other study areas.
Few multiple-story, non-residential buildings exist in the Eight Corners; those that do are two stories, with the exception of Gross Middle School (three stories). The newer buildings in the Subarea, including Osco Drug and First National Bank of Brookfield, were not designed for a pedestrian-oriented area, but developed as single use buildings with large adjacent parking lots, and little to no transparency.
The vast majority of housing in the Subarea is single-family detached residences, although some multi-family and single-family attached housing exists. The homes in the area are well cared for and it is expected that single-family residences will remain the dominant housing type. Few residents currently live along the commercial corridor and many of the shops do not have evening hours or entertainment type businesses that attract patrons after business hours, causing the area to appear dark and unwelcoming at night.
Despite the unique traffic control devices in the study area, many residents commented during the public meetings that the area is difficult to traverse.
Broadway Avenue is a boulevard street with a concrete center median and diagonal parking spaces dividing the street. This median creates a refuge for pedestrians crossing the approximately 80 feet of pavement. The sidewalks are over 10 feet in width, but are interrupted with curb cuts to off-street parking or delivery lanes, in several locations. The existing mid-block crossings on Broadway are useful to break up the long block, especially around the school. Streetscape elements, including street trees and benches, are located sporadically along the street.
Washington, Grand, and Maple are not boulevard streets. Washington and Grand are predominately alley-loaded residential streets, despite the commercial uses in the area immediately surrounding the intersection. There are few curb cuts to interrupt the flow of pedestrians along these sidewalks.
PedZoneSM was used to review the circular intersection, as well as each street segment designated as one of three zones: rewarding and comfortable pathways; pathways that are still comfortable for pedestrian travel but are unrewarding or uninteresting; and pedestrian pathways that are in direct conflict with the pathways of vehicles. The resulting illustration is found at the end of this section.
If a pedestrian were to use the crosswalks along the perimeter of the circular intersection, his or her journey would almost entirely be in pathways shared with vehicles. Only on the boulevard of Broadway Avenue would a pedestrian have a spot of refuge, if he or she was unable to cross a street in one movement. Given this area’s high profile as a pedestrian area as a result of the adjacent land-uses, it is important to limit the unrewarding and unsafe pathways.
The majority of the rewarding pathways are found along the residential streets and not along Broadway Avenue. One difference between these two areas is the existence of landscaping and on-street parking to buffer pedestrians. Unrewarding paths were found along large stretches of Broadway Avenue because of unscreened parking lots, blank facades, and diminished traditional façade elements, which make the journey less rewarding.
There are close to 500 on-street parking spaces in the Eight Corners Subarea. While not located in close proximity to one of the commuter rail stations, the on-street parking along the residential streets is limited to permit only between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., or to residents only. The largest concentration of on-street parking is along Broadway Avenue, where approximately 270 diagonal parking spaces line the concrete center median. Alleys lead to off-street parking for many businesses and the majority of the residences in the area.
The redevelopment plan for the Eight Corners Subarea is on the following pages with the illustrative plans following at the end of the section. These plans are illustrative, long-range visions for redevelopment, focusing on pedestrian pathway improvements and creating an active neighborhood-shopping district both during the day and night. Again, it is important to remember that redevelopment will occur over time and will occur in phases, as constructing a new building or renovating a façade can be cost prohibitive. It is important to prioritize opportunities and work to achieve short-term changes, such as requiring pedestrian- oriented signage, shifting curb cuts off Broadway and Maple Avenues, and creating well-screened, landscaped parking lots when necessary to be adjacent to the right-of-way.
It became obvious during the public process that the Eight Corners was already the primary shopping district in the Village. At a meeting, residents were asked which stores they shopped at on a weekly basis and three of the top five stores are in the Subarea. Many meeting participants described the future Eight Corners not only as a convenient neighborhood-shopping district, but also a social center, a place to go for entertainment with restaurants, small cafes, and a place to live.
Revise the Permitted and Prohibited Uses in the C-3 District
The first step to redeveloping an area is to ensure that the Village regulations foster or promote the type of development desired. As with the other two Subareas, when creating redevelopment plans it is important to first examine the codes that shape development. Broadway and Maple Avenues north of the circle are designated C-3 Centralized Commercial District, the same designation as the Brookfield Station. This designation in this location shares the same issues as it does in the downtown. If C3 is to remain the designated district for pedestrian-oriented commercial areas, then it should be revised to insure that the appropriate uses are permitted and inappropriate uses prohibited.
Encourage New Residential Development along Broadway and Maple Avenues
As many stated during the public process, the commercial streets in the Eight Corners appear empty and unwelcoming at night. Increasing the number of residential units through the addition of mixed-use buildings and new residential buildings will make the area more active both during the day and at night. New residential buildings should be appropriately located along these streets so as not to create large gaps in the flow of commercial and retail businesses.
Create a Set of Parking Standards that are Appropriate for a Mixed-Use Pedestrian District
Parking requirements should also be examined. In a mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented area, parking standards should take into consideration on-street parking and the location of the Eight Corners within walking distance of a large neighborhood. Parking lots should be alley loaded or have entrances off side streets, not on Broadway or Maple Avenues. This is especially critical on the primary retail street, Broadway Avenue. Currently there are several parking lots adjacent to the right-of-way with curb cuts on Broadway. Until redevelopment can occur, as is shown in the illustrative redevelopment plan, these lots should be screened with landscaping and a decorative fence to buffer pedestrians. Existing curb cuts should be phased out. The parking regulations should reflect these screening requirements, and should encourage rear or internal parking lots.
During the Image Preference Survey, several residents commented on the vacant, dark, and unwelcoming appearance of the Eight Corners in the evening and at night. Many others commented on the façades of the older buildings, which had undergone renovations over time that made them appear flat and without interest.
Use Design Guidelines to Inform the Design of New Construction and Building Renovation
As previously stated in the Brookfield Station and Hollywood Station sections, buildings with traditional façade elements were highly rated in the Image Preference Survey. This preference is reflected in a set of Design Guidelines for the pedestrian-oriented areas. Of these Guidelines, constructing the buildings to the property lines, especially on corner lots, using traditional façade elements, and creating a positive first impression are among the most important for the Eight Corners.
Encourage the Construction of Multiple-Story, Mixed-Use Buildings
To better define the circle intersection, the proposed redevelopment plans illustrate two- and three-story buildings replacing the one-story buildings and vacant lots on four of the eight corners. These new buildings should be developed to attract the attention of a passerby and to draw them into the street segments or spokes of the circle. Traditional design features, such as transparency and pedestrian-oriented signage, and durable, natural materials should be utilized in their design and construction. The upper floors of these new buildings provide opportunities for housing units, increasing the number of people in the corridor at various times of the day and night.
Focus Initial Redevelopment Efforts on the Gateway Intersections
Given the daily traffic count on Maple Avenue, a large percentage of the visitors to the Eight Corners will pass by the intersection of Maple and Grant Avenues, which serves as the northern gateway into the Subarea. The existing corner buildings at this intersection should be redeveloped with rear parking and the traditional design elements appropriate for pedestrian friendly residential buildings.
Broadway Avenue also serves as a gateway into the Subarea, but it does not have the amount of daily traffic that Maple Avenue does. New buildings are proposed on the vacant lots at the northeast corner of the Subarea and the gateway at the south end should be treated with signage or some type of monument or marker to announce the arrival into (or departure from) a unique district within the Village. As redevelopment progresses, new buildings should be constructed on vacant lots or replace existing buildings that do not fit with the pedestrian character along the street segments radiating from the circle.
The roundabout plays an important role in creating an active corridor by adding an interesting aesthetic feature and keeping vehicles to slow speeds as they pass through the area. This is an important function as the Eight Corners has higher traffic counts than the other two study areas, a result of Maple Avenue connecting Brookfield to both its northern neighbors and the Eisenhower Expressway (I-290). However, the lack of signage and clear pedestrian paths make the area confusing to traverse, especially for first-time visitors.
Install Streetscape Enhancements Around the Roundabout
The circle is enhanced in the redevelopment plans with additional landscaping to make the unique traffic control device more obvious to approaching drivers. Bulb-outs are used around the perimeter of the circle to reduce the crossing distance for pedestrians and therefore the quantity of pathways that are shared by both pedestrians and vehicles. Raised crosswalks further define the pedestrian crossing area and alert drivers that they are in a pedestrian zone and should keep speeds low. Landscaping improves the aesthetic appearance of the area and provides shade. These elements will help reduce the quantity of unrewarding and unsafe pedestrian pathways.
Use Signage to Direct Approaching Motorists Through the Roundabout
Clear signage should be installed on the approaches to the circle. Similar to the signage proposed in the downtown, this signage should provide directions to handle the traffic control device and provide information such as street names.
Install Wayfinding Signs Oriented to Both Motorists and Pedestrians
Wayfinding signs should be installed for those traveling by both vehicle and on foot. These signs can provide direction to important locations in the Subarea, such as Gross Middle School; around the community, such as the train station; and to the specific shops. Pedestrian-oriented signs, such as the one shown to the right, should be located where Broadway Avenue intersects with the circle.
Use Streetscape Enhancements to Improve the Pedestrian Pathways on Broadway Avenue
As previously stated, Broadway Avenue is the primary retail corridor within the Eight Corners Subarea. Enhancing the pedestrian experience along a corridor can be accomplished in a variety of ways, including landscaping, installation of streetscape enhancements, limited pedestrian-vehicular conflicts, and using on-street parking as a buffer between pedestrians and vehicles.
Limit Curb Cuts on Broadway Avenue
The streetscape enhancements proposed for Broadway Avenue include additional lighting, both pedestrian-oriented lights along the sidewalk and an updated style for the vehicular-oriented lights in the median. Street trees will provide shade and improve the aesthetic appearance of the area. Street furniture, including benches and trash receptacles, are also included and should be placed throughout the corridor leaving ample room for pedestrians to pass in either direction.
In the redevelopment plan, existing curb cuts to parking lots and loading zones are shifted to adjacent alleys and side streets to minimize the number of conflicted pathways along the primary commercial corridor. Existing parking lots adjacent to the right-of-way should be screened with landscaping and decorative fencing until redevelopment of the lots can occur.
Shift On-Street Parking to Serve as Buffer to Pedestrians
The on-street parking that was along the Broadway Avenue median is shown along the sidewalk. In this new location, the on-street parking serves to buffer pedestrians from the street and the faster moving vehicles. The mid-block crossings are preserved and enhanced through bulb outs and raised crosswalks.