Ballpark Commons


Ballpark Commons Development Proposal

Ballpark Commons is a proposed mixed-use development at and in the vicinity of the Rock Sports Complex located at 7900 Crystal Ridge Drive in the City of Franklin, Wisconsin. The project encompasses over 200 acres (including the existing Rock Sports Complex) and is expected to have a development value over $100 million. As in the case of most developments, refinement of plans is expected over time.  Descriptions and images are presented to provide an overall sense of the project, but are subject to change.  As available, please reference detailed plan submissions and approvals for project specifics.
 

Ballpark Commons Development, vicinity of the Rock Sports Complex located at 7900 Crystal Ridge Drive, Franklin, WI

In 2014, a due diligence analysis of over 500 acres near the intersection of 76th Street and Rawson Avenue was conducted to explore development potential of what is now known as Area A (Graef, 2015). The area, including lands now proposed for the Ballpark Commons development, were also considered for a Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District (See TIF Districts at bottom of this page) to support infrastructure costs associated with potential development scenarios. This section of the City had previously been identified for growth as part of the Franklin Frist Development Plan (R.A. Smith, 2001).

The project remains under consideration by the City of Franklin. Information about the Ballpark Commons proposal and its status are outlined below. This is intended to be a working tracking of the project and will be updated as necessary. 

Project Elements

  • The Rock Sports Complex Area 

-An outdoor baseball stadium is proposed, with a total capacity of approximately 4,000 spectators, including about 2,500 seats. The stadium would serve a minor league team affiliated with the American Association of Professional Baseball and the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee baseball team, a Division I program. The stadium could also host baseball tournaments and other events, and may include some associated retail uses.

-An indoor family entertainment and recreation center is proposed.

-The existing Rock Sports Complex would be revised to allow a golf driving range, concerts/live music, sand volleyball, etc.

-The existing BMX track would be removed from the Rock Sports Complex.
 

Ballpark Commons Site Plan
 

  • Sports Village Commercial/Mixed Use Area (near the existing Crystal Ridge Drive)

-Mixed-use buildings with ground floor retail and restaurants spaces and office or apartments on upper floors are proposed.

-A five-story hotel is proposed within this area OR within the Rawson Commercial/Mixed Use Area.
 

Ballpark Commons Sports Village Rendering 

  • Rawson Commercial/Mixed Use Area (south frontage of W. Rawson Avenue from about Loomis Road to about halfway between Loomis Road and the Stone Hedge subdivision)

-Mixed-use buildings with ground floor retail and restaurant spaces and office or luxury residential apartments on the upper floors (up to 70 units) are proposed.

-If not built in the Sports Village Commercial/Mixed-Use Area noted above, a five-story hotel could be built near Loomis & Rawson.

  • Multi-Family Residential Area (immediate south and west of the Rawson Commercial/Mixed-use Area between Loomis Road and the Stone Hedge subdivision)

-Approximately 300 apartments

-Up to six, 5-unit, two-story, townhouse buildings with attached garages are proposed along Rawson Avenue, adjacent to the Stone Hedge subdivision.

-Up to seven, 39-unit, three-story buildings are proposed south and east of the townhouses. The unit mix would include primarily one- and two-bedroom units, some with a den. Buildings would include underground parking with surface lots for overflow and guests.

-The area is also envisioned to include a clubhouse, pool, passive recreational uses such as a skating pond, shelter, greenspace/openspace.

-Sidewalks and future extension of the Oak Leaf Trail are proposed.

-A 100’ building setback from the Stone Hedge Subdivision (including a 60’ wide and 8’ high berm and vegetation) is proposed. 

Ballpark Commons Residential Rendering

Project Site Considerations

The Rock Sports Complex Area is on property owned by Milwaukee County Parks. Any development and activity on the property requires approval from Milwaukee County Parks. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) also regulates the property as portions were previously used as a land-fill and related gas collection systems are on site. The stadium is proposed to be built on fill lands, while the location of the indoor facility was modified for the March 17, 2016 plan submittal to avoid areas of fill. Because the stadium and indoor facility will be on property owned by Milwaukee County Parks, they are not taxable. The developer has suggested they are willing to explore a payment in-lieu of taxes (PILOT) to the City of Franklin.  All other buildings proposed as part of the project are on taxable lands.  This area of land is already zoned as Planned Development District (PDD) 37 and is planned for mixed-use in the City’s CMP.  The developer has requested an amendment to the PDD to accommodate the proposal.

The Sports Village Commercial/Mixed-Use Area is on land purchased by Zim-Mar Properties, LLC from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT). DOT determined this land was an unnecessary part of the abutting Loomis Road right-of-way. Now that the parcel of land has been separated and privately purchased, it is taxable by the City of Franklin. A methane pipe line is known to be on site. The land is zoned B-1, Neighborhood Business District, and is planned for transportation (as it was former right-of-way) in the City’s CMP. The developer has requested this portion of land be changed to mixed-use in the City’s CMP and included in the amended PDD 37.

The Rawson Commercial/Mixed-Use Area and Multi-Family Residential Area are both on lands currently zoned R-3, Suburban/Estate Single Family Residence District, and planned for residential use in the City’s CMP. The developer has requested this portion of land be changed to mixed-use in the City’s CMP and included in the amended PDD 37.

All sites are subject to additional considerations including, but not limited to, compatibility, design, environment, financial, roads, traffic, and utilities. 

Project Status

The project is under consideration by the City. A timeline of project specific actions is outlined below.

January 11, 2016:  The Common Council held a Concept Review for the proposed development upon application by Zim-Mar Properties LLC and The Rock Sports Complex LLC. The public was invited to attend and comment on the project.

February 1, 2016:  Mr. Zimmerman, Mr. Marso, Zim-Mar Properties LLC, and Mr. John Dargle, Jr., Director of the Milwaukee County Department of Parks submitted an application to amend Planned Development District (PDD) No. 37 (The Rock Sports Complex), and a Comprehensive Master Plan (CMP) amendment application, in support of the proposed Ballpark Commons project. (see March 17, 2016 entry for details)

February 2, 2016:  The Common Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Zimmerman Ventures, LLC regarding the Ballpark Commons development.

February 16, 2016:  The Common Council authorized staff to engage Ehlers & Associates, Inc. for Tax Incremental District services related to the Ballpark Commons development.

March 1, 2016:  The Common Council authorized staff to execute an agreement with Melaniphy & Associates, Inc. for independent market analysis services related to the Ballpark Commons development.

March 17, 2016:  A public hearing regarding the proposed amendment to PDD 37 was held. The Plan Commission recommended approval of the proposed amendment to PDD 37 and to the City’s CMP. The Plan Commission's recommendation was forwarded to the Common Council for consideration on April 4th. See the Plan Commission Submittal. A full version of the plan submittal packet is available on the Plan Commission page.

April 4, 2016:  A public hearing regarding the proposed amendment to the City’s CMP was held. The Common Council approved the proposed amendment to the City’s CMP and amendments to PDD 37 with conditions.  Detailed submittals are available on the Common Council page noted below.  Note that abutters to the property successfully filed petitions to protest the zoning changes associated with PDD 37.  Following protest petition rules, a super-majority vote was required and met for approval. 

June 6, 2016:  At a Committee of the Whole meeting, the Common Council received an update on the status of the Ballpark Commons development proposal from staff.  No action taken.

June 7, 2016:  The Common Council voted to receive and place on file the update on the status of the Ballpark Commons development proposal offered by staff during the Committee of the Whole meeting on June 6, 2016.

June 27, 2016:  The Franklin Economic Development Commission voted to approve a motion to recommend that the Common Council move forward at a reasonable pace that balances the needs of both the developer and the City to take advantage of those opportunities presented by the developer and supported by the developer's market study team at Moegenburg Research and substantially supported by the City's market research firm Melaniphy & Associates.  Said opportunities include but are not limited to, the stadium and sports complex which will drive residential, restaurant, recreational, and commercial development at this important area in Franklin.

June 28, 2016:  Three items related to the Ballpark Commons development proposal were on the agenda for the Common Council meeting.

July 25, 2016:  The Franklin Economic Development Commission discussed the Ballpark Commons Development Proposal Tax Incremental Financing Feasibility Study Report by Ehlers & Associates, LLC.  No action taken.

July 27, 2016:  The Community Development Authority discussed the Ballpark Commons Development Proposal Tax Incremental Financing Feasibility Study Report by Ehlers & Associates, LLC.  No action taken.

August 18, 2016:  A Joint Review Board Meeting was held regarding the proposed creation of Tax Incremental District No. 5 in the City of Franklin, a district including the Ballpark Commons development proposal.  This was an organizational meeting.  The actual creation of the district will be considered by the Joint Review Board at a meeting scheduled for September 21, 2016.      

August 18, 2016:  A public hearing was held in conjunction with a Plan Commission Meeting to consider the Project Plan for the Creation of Tax Incremental District No. 5, a district including the Ballpark Commons development proposal.  The Plan Commission approved a resolution advancing the plan for consideration by the Common Council. 

September 6, 2016:  The Common Council passed a resolution approving the Project Plan for the Creation of Tax Incremental District No. 5, and establishing the boundaries for and the creation of Tax Incremental District No. 5, a district including the Ballpark Commons development proposal.  A copy of the presentation offered by Ehlers, the City's financial consultant, is available here.

September 20, 2016:  A motion to reconsider the Common Council's September 6th action passing the resolution approving the Project Plan for the Creation of Tax Incremental District No. 5, a district including the Ballpark Commons development proposal, failed due to the lack of a second.  

September 21, 2016:  The Joint Review Board passed a resolution approving the Project Plan for the Creation of Tax Incremental District No. 5, a district including the Ballpark Commons development proposal.    

For information about actions by the Common Council, check the Common Council page.  Information about actions by the Plan Commission is available on the Plan Commission page.  As available meeting agendas, packets, minutes and audio will be posted. 

TIF Districts

Tax increment financing (TIF) is the primary economic development tool made available by the State of Wisconsin for use by municipalities. TIF districts leverage the difference between taxes prior to the development (baseline taxes) and the expected increased taxes post development within a defined area. All taxes from within the district are collected. Existing baseline taxes continue to be allocated to taxing authorities (school, municipal, county, etc.), while the increment is used to pay down investments in infrastructure and other improvements deemed necessary for the development to occur. After a defined period of time, not more than 23 years, including available extension, the TIF is closed. All collections are then directed to taxing authorities, and as required by Wisconsin law, a portion of newly generated tax revenue must contribute to tax relief. Franklin has previously used TIF districts to create the Franklin Business Park and to attract Northwestern Mutual and Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare to Franklin. More information on TIF districts is available from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue