Ballpark Commons at The Rock continues to roll forward in Franklin

Real Estate Spotlight

A rendering of the three-story office and retail building that will house Wheel & Sprocket.

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:11 pm

In early May, city officials in Franklin asked the plan commission to table a $1.7 million proposal from Innovative Health & Fitness to expand the club. The project, which would add a 25,500-square-foot field house for intramural sports, training and rehabilitation just north of the property at 8800 102nd St., will be revisited next month.

City staff isn’t opposed to the project. Rather, they need to delay their review because they are so busy working with the largest development the city has had in years: the Ballpark Commons mixed-use development at The Rock.

A rendering of the three-story office and retail building that will house Wheel & Sprocket.
Credit: Tredo Group

With the $130 million project’s first commercial building and first four apartment buildings recently approved, Ballpark Commons is finally on track for a spring groundbreaking.

The project will be anchored by a 2,500-seat baseball stadium. Exactly what it will look like has not been revealed yet. So far, the only “renderings” that have been released appear to be colored-pencil 2D drawings of a rural ballpark.

Mike Zimmerman, chief executive officer of ROC Ventures and the developer for Ballpark Commons, plans to build the stadium in phases, said Joel Dietl, Franklin planning manager. Phase one of the stadium will be the vegetation around the facility, berm, storm sewer, and everything else a new development needs, Dietl said. The second phase will be the stadium’s concrete bowl and the seating, which Zimmerman, who could not be reached, just applied for with the city. Phase three is the actual architecture, which includes the press box, scoreboard, locker rooms and other associated buildings, Dietl said.

Zimmerman has not submitted plans yet for the indoor sports facility or the Luxe Golf Bays complex that will also be included at Ballpark Commons, Dietl said.

Luxe Golf Bays will be a three-level, $15 million entertainment center that features 57 heated, open-air golf bays. It is basically a high-end driving range experience. It will include two locally-branded restaurants run by a not-yet-named local hospitality group and a four-season beer garden called the Hinterhof is also planned.

Earlier this year, Brookfield-based soccer club SC Waukesha announced it would relocate to the 40,000-square-foot mixed-use indoor sports facility planned at the development.

Zimmerman has been working on the Ballpark Commons project for years.

He transformed the former Crystal Ridge Ski Hill, at the northwest corner of West Loomis Road and South 76th Street, into The Rock, a multi-sport complex with a ski hill, baseball fields, mountain biking trails and a BMX track.

Zimmerman originally wanted to build a $10.5 million minor league ballpark at The Rock and secured a franchise for a team from the independent Frontier League. Zimmerman sought a public-private partnership with the City of Franklin to finance the ballpark, but was unanimously rejected in April 2014 by the Franklin Common Council.

In January 2016, Zimmerman returned to Franklin with his new proposal, which includes the 2,500-seat stadium, the indoor sports complex, retail, apartments and, most recently, a senior living component.

Since the beginning of 2018, tenants have been announced for the complex, including SC Waukesha.

Wheel & Sprocket will occupy the first floor and lower level of a three-story office and retail building in the north-side section of the development. Wheel & Sprocket owners announced in January they would lease 20,150 square feet of space, replacing their Hales Corners store.

So far, this has been the only retail tenant announcement for the project.

In February, Zimmerman announced he had struck a deal with the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. He launched a “name the team” contest for the independent minor league team.

The Ballpark Commons project will also include seven multi-family market-rate apartment buildings on 25 acres along West Rawson Avenue. In April, the city approved the first four three-story buildings. The buildings will have a total of 308 units.

About 155 senior living apartments will be built next to the market-rate apartments. Plans for the senior living apartments have not yet been submitted, Dietl said.

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