Franklin approves financing for Ballpark Commons

Construction of mixed-use development could begin in early 2017

Rendering of the Ballpark Commons development.

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:13 pm

The City of Franklin’s Common Council approved a $26.8 million special taxing district to help fund the Ballpark Commons mixed-use development at The Rock Sports Complex, paving the way for construction on the long-awaited project to begin early next year.

Rendering of the Ballpark Commons development.
Rendering of the Ballpark Commons development

“We have every intention and no reason to believe we will not be in the ground as early as conditions allow next year,” said Blair Williams, president of Milwaukee-based WiRED Properties who is developing Ballpark Commons with Mike Zimmerman, owner of The Rock.

The $120 million project at 7900 Crystal Ridge Drive, encompasses more than 200 acres of land, including the existing Rock Sports Complex and will include a minor league baseball stadium, an indoor sports complex, apartments and retail stores.

Zimmerman has been trying to move the project forward for more than two years. His company, Zim-Mar Properties, LLC, has partnered with WiRED properties, Marso Construction and Cartensen Homes on the project.

The plan includes:

At the Rock Sports Complex:

  • A 4,000 seat stadium intended for an independent minor league professional baseball franchise. The stadium would also serve as the home field for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers baseball program.
  • An indoor sports facility to accommodate four youth-sized baseball fields. The fields could also accommodate other sports such as soccer or lacrosse.
  • A mixed-use development known as “Ballpark Commons,” which could include one or more restaurants and hotels and other retail uses.

At West Rawson Avenue and Old Loomis Road:

  • Three multi-story, mixed-use buildings with retail on the first floor, 60 residential apartments on the upper floors.
  • Two, 60,000-square-foot, three-story office buildings.
  • Eighteen two-story apartment buildings with 240-units.

Once work begins, the multi-family units will likely be phase one of the project. The commercial development, south of Rawson will be built next, although Williams said the market will likely determine the timeline.

The portion of the project north of Rawson, where the baseball stadium and indoor sports and entertainment venue and sports village will be built, will take longer to develop and will also depend on market conditions, Williams said.

Williams said the Common Council’s unanimous approval Tuesday night to create the TIF was a huge step forward.

“We’re very pleased,” Williams said. “Franklin has been good to work with and we are treating this as a collaborative effort with the city and the neighbors. For a development like this to work, you have to collaborative to be effective.”

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