The much-talked about, highly scrutinized, and yes, controversial Ballpark Commons proposal in Franklin got final approval in 2017, but not before confronting and clearing some hurdles.
In Franklin, where major projects are too few and far between thanks to political dysfunction and hyper regulation, Ballpark Commons will be the biggest, most significant economic development in the city’s history.
Back in May of 2017 I blogged the following:
A Milwaukee County Board committee voted to sell land it owns in Franklin to developer Mike Zimmerman. The land would be part of Zimmerman’s proposed Ballpark Commons development.
The story was reported by Sean Ryan of the Milwaukee Business Journal. His article is only available online to subscribers. Here are some of the key details:
- Milwaukee County would sell about 140 acres of land at South 76th Street and
West Loomis Road to a group led by Zimmerman.
- The land includes the Rock Sports Complex.
- Zimmerman built The Rock on county land.
- The area to be sold also would be used for a minor-league baseball stadium, golf driving range, indoor sports training center and supporting restaurants and stores.
- The development would also include about 300 apartments and a 100-room hotel south of Rawson Avenue.
- The landfill at the site is a concern, Zimmerman concedes.
- Ryan reports Zimmerman’s group would assume from the County the responsibility for maintaining the landfill gas system on the property, costing about $167,000 a year.
- The current landfill gas system would be replaced in 2018.
- The county and developers would both put money into a trust fund to pay for the gas system’s maintenance and eventual replacement in 2038.
- The developers would commit about $127,000 a year to that fund, and the county $20,000.
- The full Milwaukee County Board must vote on the sale later this month.
- If the sale is approved, and environmental studies come back positive, construction could start in late summer.
- The first baseball games in the stadium could take place in late May 2018.
—This Just In, May 18, 2017
One day later I blogged:
In another article (available online only to subscribers) Ryan opens his article about the landfill in Franklin with this:
The land deal for the Ballpark Commons development in Franklin is unusual. Rarely will a developer spend so much time negotiating to buy a landfill. But that’s what would happen in the 140-acre deal negotiated between Milwaukee County
officials and Mike Zimmerman’s ROC Ventures.
As reported, Zimmerman buys the land and converts it into Ballpark Commons, a minor league baseball stadium, golf driving range, indoor sports training center, and supporting restaurants and stores.
You either love that idea, a major economic development in the economic development desert that is Franklin, or you live in the Flintstones era and want nothing in our city that is more modern than a rickshaw.
Ryan also reports:
Zimmerman said his negotiations with Milwaukee County started 18 months ago, and they originally discussed extending their existing deal for The Rock, which is similar to a lease for the land. Under that deal, the county is responsible for running the landfill gas system on the property. But it wasn’t doable, and the county instead floated the idea of a sale.
“I, in the early stages, thought it was a crazy idea,” Zimmerman said.
Over the past several months they forged a new idea for Zimmerman to take ownership of the land. Instead of paying cash for it, his group would basically accept the cost and responsibility of the landfill.
—This Just In, May 19, 2017
Now it was the fall of 2017, and a critical vote was coming.
The naysayers refused to remain silent, resulting in some absolutely shoddy journalism by a local suburban news outlet.
As 2017 came to an end, there were more developments (note the negative headline).
So Ballpark Commons will continue to be an exciting news story in 2018.
THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2017
1) BALLPARK COMMONS IS COMING TO FRANKLIN
2) CRIME WAVE HITS FRANKLIN
3) ANOTHER YEAR, ANOTHER TOUGH ONE FOR TAXPAYERS
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