Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely baby daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
Call it, “The Fountains of Failure.”
It should, because the almost-total lack of progress at the promising Fountains of Franklin (FOF) is just that.
Throughout 2007, I’ve written several tongue –in-cheek blogs poking fun at the veritable ghost town at 56th and Rawson. When discussing FOF, many like to brag about Sendik’s and Andy’s down the street at 51st. Without those developments, FOF would be a complete disaster. For the purposes of today’s blog, I am referring to the site behind the FOF office building up the street from Sendik’s.
I am now less optimistic than I was 12 months ago and wonder if the community is being sold a bill of goods.
In late January, in one of my very first blogs, I wrote:
I had the opportunity to meet David Hintzman, President of Equitable Development LLC, one of the developers of the Fountains of Franklin. He impresses me as being fully dedicated to making the project work, complete with much sought after amenities and attractive architecture and landscaping. My advice to Hintzman: crank up the public relations/marketing campaign. I would venture to guess a great deal of Franklin has no idea how ambitious or enticing the Fountains of Franklin is. Heck, I bet a lot of people have never heard about it, period. Get the word out, pitch your project, and make people aware of what you’re planning in your office where I see the lights on late quite frequently. Get the media to do stories, and update your web site ASAP.
There were few, if any stories. Public relations campaign? What campaign? The FOF website, when it was up and running, remained virtually unchanged for long periods of time. Of course, how can you update when nothing is happening?
While I was taking jabs at FOF, Hintzman was showing FranklinNOW blogger Greg Kowalski around the site in late-June. Hintzman may have thought he’d get a more receptive attitude from Kowalski….and he did.
Kowalski wrote in June:
The developer, Dave Hintzman, told me plenty of things that this development is doing. The great landscaping, the great designs of the stores and offices, and of course - the spots where the fountains will reign supreme.
Not able to be seen from Rawson, The Fountains has foundations, sewer, electric, and fire hydrants already complete. One of the ponds behind the professional office building is complete. Today, I saw firsthand at least 6 dump trucks pull in, full of dirt ready to use for grading and smoothing of future parking lots....which at least one parking area is complete.
The word I got was the corner retail to the left of the FOF sign will be completed this year. The professional office building just needs a contract signing and that should begin getting underway.
Ever since having the wool pulled over his eyes, Kowalski has failed to write a negative word about FOF. I prefer to remain skeptical. Especially when the first “restaurant” (and only one so far) announced for FOF is a Dairy Queen.
When I hear “Dairy Queen” that doesn’t exactly scream “upscale.”
At the VIP party the night before the grand opening of Sendik’s I ran into Hintzman. The goal was to use the opening of Sendik’s to make some major announcement about new tenants.
Nada. Zilch. Same old same old.
Much of what we discussed was off the record and not for publication.
Generally speaking, I can tell you that Hintzman offered an explanation, if you will, of why things are taking so long to happen at FOF, a subject I’ve teased FOF about for many months.
Hintzman, in a nutshell, told me that it’s better to wait in order to get something worthwhile. But how long do we have to wait?
Without breaking a confidence, Hintzman is quite confident of two high-quality businesses coming into FOF that I can’t specify any further. I will believe it when I see it.
Where Hintzman lost me a bit is on the “good things come to those who wait” approach, especially when he told me it would result in garnering tenants that, “nobody else has.”
I guess that explains that new Dairy Queen.
I like Hintzman and want him to succeed. But the longer this goes on without major progress, the more I think the land at 56th and Rawson will remain dormant and we’ll never see what the FOF website now promises:
The Fountains of Franklin retail Lifestyle Center, located on the south side of Milwaukee County has now expanded to a 60 acre Downtown Plan. This new Downtown Area will be anchored by the number one specialty grocer Sendik’s Food Market, a Modern Performing Arts Center, a Medical/Professional Office Building and Gas Station/Car Wash. The variety and size of these anchors provide the necessary draw to assist in the success of their co-tenants. The Fountains of Franklin will also be home to tenants such as a full service salon /spa, bank, fashion stores, restaurants, and a café. This plan has been designed for significant pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
Pie in the sky?
THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2007
10) THE LACK OF PROGRESS AT FOUNTAINS OF FRANKLIN