THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2017: #4

Franklin officials claim they’re working hard on the area of economic development.

I believe them. They have to. They have no choice being a retail sieve.

In every city newsletter they promote new businesses. Yes, another storage place or nail salon or what not just opened. Yawn. Great big huge yawn.

Problem is, no substantial progress is being made, while next door neighbor Oak Creek continues to clobber us.  The faction in Franklin that would prefer we remain 1957 doesn’t care. The majority, however, wants Franklin to do something, anything.

In August of 2016  Franklin’s economic development director Aaron Hertzberg made a presentation to the Franklin Common Council that is still pertinent today. Here’s a portion:

 

FRANKLIN’S STRENGTHS

Milwaukee-Chicago (South Suburban) is a “Growth Corridor”

Full Service Infrastructure Roads, sewer, water, public safety, etc.

Community of desire, Median HH income: $75,180

High quality living: Accessibility, schools, parks/trails, etc.

High value commercial: Franklin Business Park, NM & Wheaton

Active Development Market

FRANKLIN’S WEAKNESSES

Expectations out of line with existing market reality

Limited I-94 visibility

Lack of residential density and core focus area for retail

Comprehensive Plan & Design Standards (Are they a guide or a hurdle?)

Reputation: Challenging development process

Neighbor meetings, concept review & public hearings

Staff & regulatory review is extensive

Taxes/Impact Fees/Standards relative to peer communities

Plans, strategies, even economic realizations are known and in place. But that’s it. A lot of brainstorming, but no execution into substantive action people can see and understand.

It’s like that exhaustive report that looks and sounds awfully nice, then gets tossed into a drawer to never see the light of day again.

In 2017 Franklin’s retail struggles continued.

On August 15, 2017, I came home to a raving wife. That would be raving in a positive way.

Jennifer had spent part of her day at Fresh Thyme, a new grocery store in Greenfield at 84 South.

As I talked at the dinner table about my day at work, Jennifer couldn’t stop raving about Fresh Thyme.

My takeaway was the dozens of varieties of sausages in the meat department.

Fresh Thyme Market 081517.jpg

Are there this many varieties of sausage at our local Sendiks?  (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Fischer from her visit that afternoon.)

My wife and I have a lot in common.

We love Franklin even though we have our issues. Utopia, Franklin ain’t. Sorry.

We both are passionate about how we feel about Franklin.

And we both blog.

I’m a lot more edgy and political than Jennifer, but she has her moments because she has a good sense about what’s going on around Franklin.

Three years ago (2014) she blogged on the old FranklinNOW.com site about retail in Franklin.

JENNIFER FISCHER, May, 2014

I feel fortunate to live in Franklin; I really do.  We have a safe community with a wonderful library, lovely parks, a new (though at times controversial) sports complex and a strong sense of civic pride that is evident every July 4th for the Independence Day Parade.  I’d like to support my fair city even more, but I can’t.

If I want to purchase anything other than the basics, it’s not possible to do so in Franklin.  If I want more than paper towels (Wal Mart,) a gallon of paint (Menard’s/Home Depot/Lowe’s,) a greeting card (Hallmark) or great produce (Sendik’s) then I’m forced to drive to neighboring communities.

“But you have a STARBUCKS!  You can’t complain about not having anything in Franklin!  Again, I say, you have a STARBUCKS!”

Um, yeah.  So does this place:

https://thisjustinfromfranklinwi.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/c559d-dsc03971.jpg?w=846&h=634

Ever heard of the City of Industry?

No?  I can’t believe you’ve never heard of a city in California with a population of 222 people.  After all, they have THREE STARBUCKS.  So gee, they must be THRIVING.

Seriously.  When I want to pick up a cute dress for Kyla, I need Boston Store or Macy’s.  Heck, even KOHL’S in a pinch.  Where can I find them?  Greendale.  If I need a pretty picture frame, a stylish vase or trendy handbag where should I look?  How ‘bout TJ Maxx?  In Greenfield.  If I’m out and about and getting hungry for a bowl of soup, sandwich on artisan bread or gourmet salad I wonder where I should eat?  I’d like to stop at Panera but where can I find one?  Oak Creek, of course.  (More on that community in a bit.)  If I want to drive just a few more miles north beyond my “next door neighbors” I can find everything from high-quality cosmetics to designer shoes at Mayfair Mall.

Do I like having to shop outside of Franklin?  Of course not.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way either.  But what am I supposed to do?  We simply don’t have the retail options of other similar cities in the area.  And wouldn’t it be nice not only to satisfy Franklin residents’ shopping needs but to draw other communities to us?

I was proud to vote for our new mayor, Steve Olson.  I think that he will be a great leader for our city for many reasons.  In a recent interview with Sean Ryan of the Business Journal, summarized by Kevin’s blog, Olson isn’t as infatuated with retail as I am:

Mayor Steve Olson also talked with the paper, saying his focus is on new business and industrial parks. He believes retail is a tough sell due to Southridge Mall being so close.

“I am absolutely not discouraging any retail, but I do think retail will come when retailers can justify it to themselves,” said Olson.”

I am sure that Mayor Olson has access to statistics and data that I don’t.  I believe he came to his conclusions with thoughtful analysis.  I simply don’t agree with him.

I feel that Franklin is starving for retail establishments and that given more flexible opportunities, store owners would love it here.  We’ve got the demographics to support business!  We’re similar to Oak Creek in so many ways except we make it next to impossible for entrepreneurs.  There are more hoops to jump through than at a Ringling Bros. extravaganza.  There’s more red tape here than at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

As far as the theory that Southridge’s competition is a major detractor…  I truly believe competition is a good thing in so many cases.  But beyond that if everyone thought “Oh gee there’s already A, B, and C in this area so I won’t try to open D” then where would we be?  There’d be no Collectivo Coffee if a Starbucks was within a five-mile radius.  Lowe’s wouldn’t open a stone’s throw from Menard’s which is another stone’s throw from Home Depot.  Sendik’s wouldn’t dream of setting up shop when just a short drive away Pick ‘N Save offers many of the same products.

I believe we should not only passively support new retail businesses but actively recruit them.  While I said I feel fortunate to live in Franklin, I’d feel equally fortunate to live in Oak Creek while enjoying many more shopping opportunities.  Oak Creek is experiencing an unbelievably amazing renaissance right now.  And there’s more in their future.
—Jennifer Fischer, May, 2014.

What my wife wrote three years ago is still 100% true TODAY.

Our mayor’s argument in 2014 is the same he trumpets today. From 2014:

He (Mayor Olson) believes retail is a tough sell due to Southridge Mall being so close.

Oh really.

Let’s go to the geography.

Using S. 76th street as our measuring stick, Franklin is 1.9 miles from the Southridge Mall.

Again, my wife, Jennifer was extolling the virtues of Fresh Thyme after her visit earlier this year at 84 South.

84 South is 1.3 miles from the Southridge Mall.

84 South is and will be a tremendous project for many to benefit, including consumers from Franklin who will travel the not so horrible commute to enjoy shopping opportunities totally unavailable in Franklin.

The main point here: Mayor Olson’s Southridge argument is so much, sorry Mayor, fake news.

My wife gets what the city of Franklin intelligentsia does not.

Near the end of 2016 Jennifer also took issue with the mayor. Brookfield was having all sort sorts of problems accommodating the opening of a Total Wine store. On social media Jennifer suggested if Brookfield didn’t  want Total Wine they should consider coming to Franklin.

Mayor Olson responded.

“We already have one of those,” referring to Franklin’s Three Cellars. Very nice place, but nowhere near a Total Wine.

Mayor Olson is a sharp guy. That’s why we were stunned at his reply. Diplomatically speaking, we found it to be not very bright.

We were unaware Franklin had a quota on the number of great businesses. Apparently Oak Creek has no such limitations. Not one of the mayor’s best moments.

We already have one of those? Then came 2017.

The mayor does get an A-plus for this 2017 outburst.

And finally, as many of us longingly wait for something other than a weed to sprout, Franklin retail is a like a Broadway musical.

THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2017

1) ?
2) ?
3) ?
4) FRANKLIN REMAINS A RETAIL SIEVE
5) WHEEL TAX WAKES UP FRANKLIN TAXPAYERS
6) LOYAL VOLUNTEER DUMPED
7) SODA BOMBS ARRESTS
8) FRANKLIN’S AWARD-WINNING JEWEL
9) POLITICAL BULLYING
10) CHAIRGATE RETURNS

 

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