Brookfield breaks ground on long-planned streetscape project
BROOKFIELD — After decades of dreaming, the town broke ground on the Four Corners streetscape project Thursday afternoon to a cheering crowd of nearly 40 officials, business owners and residents.
The $3.5 million project is a major step in the revitalization of the Brookfield Town Center — now the preferred name for the Four Corners — which the town hopes to turn into a thriving, walkable downtown. When work is completed late this year, the area will have its first sidewalks, as well as streetlights, crosswalks, bike lanes, parking and more. Officials hope this will attract commercial and residential developers.
First Selectman Steve Dunn recalled residents talking about redoing the downtown when he first moved to Brookfield in 1983.
“It’s so incredibly exciting, and this is just the beginning,” Dunn said.
The town has worked closely with the Department of Transportation on the project, which is on a state road and is paid for with local and state funding.
Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker said the project is an example of the state’s vision for revitalization.
“This is what makes a permanent change in the community, that makes it a great place,” he said. “When we build a bridge, people take it for granted. They drive over it. It doesn’t change the community. This does.”
A member of U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty’s office also attended the groundbreaking. Esty said she is looking forward to seeing the completed streetscape.
“This project would not be possible today without the vision and foresight of Brookfield’s town leaders and I commend those folks who carried out the vision of a walkable community,” she said in a statement.
The first phase of the project runs from the intersection of Federal and Station roads south to Brookfield Funeral Home, north to Alexander’s Restaurant, west to the edge of the Mobil station and east to the Brookfield Craft Center. A second phase, already fully funded but not expected to begin until 2018 or later, will extend the streetscape from Brookfield Funeral Home to the Still River Greenway trail.
Completion of hte first phase, expected in November or December, is tied to the opening of the first two buildings of Brookfield Village, which will include four mixed-use buildings with 72 apartments and nearly 24,000 square feet of street-level commercial space.
George Walker, the real estate agent for Brookfield Village, said the streetscape will attract restaurants, cafes and other business owners.
Already, one couple plans to open a Rich Farm ice cream shop on the first floor of the barn-like red building on Station Road. Rich Farm, a franchise in Oxford and California, offers homemade ice cream in 30 to 40 flavors.
The couple, Mark and Lisa DePaolis, said they knew as soon as they visited Brookfield Town Center that this is where they wanted to open their shop.
“Our goal is to be part of the community, part of everything that goes on,” Mark DePaolis said. “We are so, so excited about this. This is a dream location. It’s perfect.”
Residents could go out to eat at one of the restaurants in Brookfield Village and then walk next door for an ice cream, Walker said.
“It ties in very nicely with our prospective tenants,” he said.