In addition, WEC Energy Group will transition out of the commercial real estate development business. Wispark will no longer develop land or buildings and instead will rely on its strategic partnerships with CenterPoint Property Trust and Zilber Property Group for commercial real estate expertise when needed.
However, Wispark will continue to manage approximately $50 million of investment in commercial real estate assets.
When Franke retires, Erica-Nicole Harris, who was promoted to vice president Jan. 1, will assume responsibility for Wispark. Harris joined Wispark in August 2003.
Franke joined Wispark in 1988 and has served as its president since October 2000.
As Wispark president, Franke has led several major real estate development projects including LakeView Corporate Park in Pleasant Prairie and Drexel Town Square in Oak Creek. Other Wispark projects he has led include: the Kenosha Business Park; GrandView Business Park, DeBack Farm Business Park and Gaslight Pointe in Racine County; OakView Business Park in Oak Creek; redevelopment projects for the Boston Store, Matthews Building and 211 Wisconsin Avenue building in Milwaukee.
WisPark is the city of Oak Creek’s partner in the Drexel Town Square Project, an 85-acre mixed-use development at the southwest corner of Drexel and Howell avenues at the former Delphi manufacturing plant site. Former Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi said Franke’s vision for the site and ability to pull all of the right people together for the project made Drexel Town Square possible.
“He is very determined and dogged about convincing people of committing to a long-range plan,” Scaffidi said. “Having that vision and commitment for Drexel Town Square has paid off.”
Franke has also been active in several local economic development organizations, including stints as chairman of the Kenosha Area Business Alliance and Racine County Economic Development Corporation as well as the Milwaukee Development Corporation and WAMDC LLC.