Ballpark Commons getting much-needed memory care housing

This is a significant development in the huge story of the ongoing progress being made at the future Ballpark Commons in Franklin.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting:

“Apartments for older people at Franklin’s future Ballpark Commons mixed-use project will include memory care housing, according to newly released plans. The development’s senior housing will feature a three-story building on 6 acres south of West Rawson Avenue, and west of West Old Loomis Road.

“The building will have 139 apartments, including 36 memory care units, a city Department of Community Development report said. The remaining 103 apartments will be for both independent and assisted living.

“The memory care units will be in a separate wing. They will be for people with mild to moderate memory loss.”

The news should send a clear message that Ballpark Commons is not just a baseball stadium. It’s far more.

Some could argue the memory care housing actually provides more for the greater good than any other Ballpark Commons component.

Let’s not diminish how important, how noteworthy, and how commendable this news is to the project and to Franklin.

To illustrate, here’s a feature article from the 2017 Annual Report of WHEDA, the state’s housing authority that has invested in memory care housing and will give you more detail about what will happen at the housing at Ballpark Commons.


Woodruff, a small town in Oneida County, Wisconsin, is home to a pioneering trailblazer.

One Penny Place is a Residential Care Apartment Complex where senior residents have access to meals, laundry, housekeeping, wellness activities, and personal care and nursing services all on an optional basis.  When it opened in 2002 with the help of WHEDA financing, One Penny Place was Wisconsin’s first affordable assisted living facility.

One Penny Place paved the way for the addition of similar developments throughout the state that offer valuable supportive services. WHEDA has encouraged developers to include such services in new rental properties that has resulted in a marked increase in housing opportunities for the neediest populations.

Aster Retirement in Cottage Grove is a unique example that includes a community designed exclusively to serve the needs of individuals with memory impairment. This special approach for residents was developed thanks to a strong, loving, personal connection.

Dwight and Dale Huston are two of seven children in their family who, like so many others, realized one day that a parent, their mother, needed help. Each day one of the seven took a daily turn caring for her as they searched for an appropriate home, with no luck.

After looking everywhere and finding nothing, the Huston brothers felt they had no other choice, especially when they realized it wasn’t just about their mother. Others in the community needed attention as well. So they developed a retirement place on their own.

“We built the retirement home based on what we’d want for our mother,” said Dwight Huston.

Angelus of Cottage Grove with 49 units of assisted living housing opened in August of 2005, two months after the Hustons’ mother passed away.

Angelus is now known as Aster Retirement that features a campus environment. Residents aren’t housed in the same building.

The campus includes the Aster Memory Care community. Since 2015 it cares for seniors who have Alzheimer’s or other memory-related diseases. Memory loss affects every aspect of the residents’ lives and their ability to function. That triggers a number of cognitive changes that distort their perception and the way they react.

“The person with memory loss cannot change so we as their caregivers need to adapt the environment around them,” said Chris Moser, Vice President of Finance for the Ashford Martin Corporation that manages Aster Retirement.

“Everything from the physical design of the building, our supportive programs, and approach to care are there to provide our residents with high quality, dignified care in an engaging active environment that is also comfortable, secure and failure free,” said Moser.

While housekeeping, laundry and meal preparation services are provided, the level of the services is increased in the Memory Care setting. Aster’s daily activities are designed specially to allow the individual to reconnect with favorite hobbies or interests. The whole idea is to keep residents active with at least 10 hours scheduled daily with things to do, including pet, music, and multi-sensory therapy.

“You try to soak up all their energy so they sleep well,” said Dwight Huston.

There’s a chapel, meeting room, an atrium, even a Grand Piano where a woman comes in once a week to play.

Does it work?

“Most residents have increases in independence, social interaction, mental functioning and overall happiness,” said Moser. “Additionally, some residents also have decreases in medications, falls, and incidents involving violent behavior.”

Despite experts advising the Hustons to build no more than 16-18 units they went with 24.

“We should have done 34 because there’s such a need,” said Dale Huston. “The community needs it. Every community needs it.”

Throughout the Hustons’ journey WHEDA has been there with financial backing because of the brothers’ strong dedication to supportive housing. WHEDA’s funding has included $5,187,830 to refinance debt on the Angelus 49 units in 2012;  financing for 22 additional units totaling $5,171,517 in 2015; and also in 2015 construction and permanent financing totaling $2.7 million for the 24-bed memory care housing development to complete the assisted living campus.

“Oh my goodness, it was unbelievable how good WHEDA was,” said Dale Huston. “You have loyalty. You have to have good partners. Once you have something good, you stay with it.”

Now in their 70’s the Hustons visit Aster Retirement every day since they know a lot of the residents. Their sense is that these people, many of whom they grew up with, deserve dignity and they want to give some back.

And their mission continues as they opened a new building as part of their campus for ages 55 and older in December 2017.
—WHEDA 2017 Annual Report

4 thoughts on “Ballpark Commons getting much-needed memory care housing

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