Quiz time: What does Franklin do best?
Think about that.
What immediately comes to mind?
Got your answer?
I have mine.
Franklin eats Oak Creek’s dust.
This story is based in Oak Creek, but its repercussions were felt here in Franklin.
Ikea, a popular retail store known for assemble-it-yourself furniture announced in May a 295,000-square-foot store will be constructed on about 29 acres near the northwestern corner of the freeway and W. Drexel Ave. The store is expected to open in summer of 2018 and will employ about 250 people.
Reaction came instantly.
“The screams of joy that you heard from southeastern Wisconsin shoppers early Thursday were due to the early morning confirmation that Ikea would open its first Milwaukee-area store along Interstate 94 in Oak Creek.”
That’s what the Milwaukee Business Journal wrote. The screams of agony came from just west of Oak Creek by frustrated Franklin residents who want so desperately for their city to crawl out from its 1955 cave.
“It’s a big thrill to have a company as large as IKEA come to Oak Creek,” Mayor Steve Scaffidi said in an interview with the Journal Sentinel. In some Franklin households that kind of talk would send folks into the fetal position.
“IKEA does not open stores just anywhere,” said IKEA spokesman Joseph Roth. The 53132 zip code is painfully aware.
Scaffidi said having an IKEA — a “destination” store that would attract visitors from outside the local area — is expected to lead to further development, such as hotels and complementary businesses, in Oak Creek. City of Franklin so-called leaders, see any dots connected? Does the light bulb go on?
The Journal Sentinel reported, “The stage was set for Oak Creek to move onto IKEA’s radar when city officials began planning several years ago to build a traffic system that could accommodate such a high-profile business.” In Franklin one year, it took two separate Common Council meetings to decide when to have Trick or Treat.
Tom Zale, vice president of real estate for Northwestern Mutual said “We are excited by this development and look forward to discussions with interested parties that see the location’s potential.” Can’t remember the last time someone said that about a Franklin development
The Journal Sentinel reported, “Oak Creek officials want their community to stand out among Milwaukee suburbs.” If that’s the case I don’t know what the hell Franklin’s intentions are.
“You’ll continue to see development and big stories, because I just think that’s how we’re wired,” Scaffidi said. “We’re looking for things that are unique, things that are interesting and groundbreaking. Things that 10 years ago we couldn’t do, we now go after.” Now that’s incredibly visionary and refreshing. In Franklin we fund raise for a barn and yearn for the days of the horse and buggy.
The above were the reactions of so-called “officials.”
The conclusion was clear. When it came to Ikea specifically and economic growth in general, Franklin was a big house divided.
More reaction. An astute reader of mine e-mailed me the following:
Had the business park (which had businesses chomping at the bit ready to go in) been approved by the half of the council that was playing political games – we might have had this in our area.
Why would they consider us? Why would anyone consider us when it is apparent the council doesn’t want anything to succeed while Olson is mayor?
THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2016
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10) BOMB THREAT AT FHS