Ballpark Commons projects gets zoning approval

Mixed-use development planned at The Rock in Franklin

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The City of Franklin’s Common Council voted in favor of a rezoning request for developer Michael Zimmerman’s $100 million to $130 million project to construct a minor league baseball stadium, indoor sports complex, apartments and retail stores at The Rock Sports Complex, in a 5-1 decision Monday.

The vote rezoned the land for the Ballpark Commons project from residential and transportation to mixed use. It also expanded District 37, The Rock Sports Complex, to allow for the Ballpark Commons’ development, a project that is two years in the making.

The Common Council originally denied Zimmerman’s proposal for a $10 million city-financed baseball stadium in 2014. Zimmerman Ventures, LLC will build the approved development at 7900 Crystal Ridge Drive, tentatively starting this fall.

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Zim-Mar Properties, LLC and partnering developers WiRED properties and Marso Construction and Cartensen Homes must meet the Common Council’s 39 conditions, including traffic impact analysis and landscaping plans before breaking ground. In another 5-1 vote the Common Council decided that if the conditions are not met within 24 months of April 4 the land will no longer be zoned for mixed use.

“If all these conditions can be met and met well, this will be a very exciting development,” Joel Dietl, the city’s planning manager, said. According to Dietl, the requirements exist to accommodate other developers and residents in surrounding areas.

Franklin Ald. Dan Mayer, voted against the proposal after residents who live close to The Rock voiced opposition about the development.

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With a capacity of 4,000, including 2,500 hard seats, the ballpark will house the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers baseball program. The project will also add four youth-sized baseball fields north of Rawson Avenue.

The Ballpark Commons plans also include thirteen two- and three-story apartment buildings with a total of 300 units, which will be located south of Rawson Avenue. The developers will also build three additional buildings for housing and commercial use in that area.

According to Dietl, Chef Michael Fecker of Il Mito Trattoria e Enoteca in Wauwatosa and Zesti in Hartland expressed interest in opening a restaurant in the Ballpark Commons project.

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The developers will request tax incremental financing for the project, which is still subject to approval from the Common Council. A specific TIF amount has not been requested yet, Dietl said.

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