For our top spot, it was the one Franklin story in 2018 that kept giving good news after good news: the continuing progress at Ballpark Commons.
Enthusiasm began to build in February.
The long-awaited groundbreaking took place in June with good media coverage.
Even before shovels hit the ground UW-Milwaukee officially signed a lease agreement to play at the new facility.
And how about a four-season beer garden?
And shortly after the groundbreaking came word that Ballpark Commons would be getting much-needed memory care housing (the mayor strongly criticized this component of the development).
Then in September, a nickname for the baseball team that will call Ballpark Commons home.
One last Ballpark Commons news nugget came earlier this month when the Journal Sentinel reported the development “is seeking another $5.2 million in city financing help — beyond $22.5 million already approved. Roc Ventures LLC, led by developer Mike Zimmerman, is seeking the additional cash because of ‘increases in unforeseen development expenses,’ according to a city report.”
That kind of reporting can certainly raise eyebrows. At first blush such a headline could boil blood. But the request by the developer is certainly reasonable and well understood when all facts are considered.
Keep in mind that this project has grown significantly from its infant stages by over $50M of additional projected increment. That means the project needed additional infrastructure that can support the addition(s).
This point is critical. Construction and other prices have increased during the 18 months or so since the tax incremental financing district was established for the development. The rise in construction costs is not a Ballpark Commons phenomenon. It’s a nationwide issue. Google to find out.various units of government have been involved and have paid such close attention. Not a bad thing. Just a reality.
Look, Ballpark Commons is no Miller Park. Doesn’t have to be. I know first hand that deals of this magnitude are extremely complex. They take time. And in the process costs can easily go up. Zimmerman has thrown substantial skin in the game. My guess is he wouldn’t go to the city and ask for assistance if he didn’t think such help was feasible.
This issue will carry over into 2019, but for now, it appears Ballpark Commons is on a clear path to a Grand Opening, after all the various city conditions, additional approvals needed, the County sales cycle to acquire the land, additional studies, public hearings, etc. It’s an amazing Franklin success story.
We close with the following. In August Ballpark Commons developer/owner Mike Zimmerman was Steve Scaffidi’s guest on WTMJ Conversations. WTMJ promoted the program with an audio clip of Zimmerman saying the public hearings on the mixed-use project were so ugly he told his wife not to attend.
Please take the time to listen to the entire program here. It’s a great insight into this entire story. Just click the play button at the top of the page.
THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2018
1) Ballpark Commons well on its way
2) Police referendum rejected
3) Reassessments outrage
4) Logsdon upsets incumbent Taylor
5) Police? No. A remodeled City Hall? YES
6) Like it or not Franklin, you’re getting another roundabout
7) Franklin OKs K4
8) Franklin fights but loses on Dark Store loophole
9) Finally Franklin admits they’ve got a developer problem
10) Fun, Fun, Fun in Franklin
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