The Business Journal
April 19, 1999
Developers target Franklin racetrack, outdoor theater
The Hales Corners Speedway and the 41 Twins
Outdoor Theatre, two south-suburban landmarks in
Franklin, are being targeted for demolition and
Plans call for the racetrack at 6531 S. 108th
St. to be torn down and redeveloped as a retail
site, according to a source familiar with the plans.
The 41 Twins at 7701 S. 27th St., one of
Wisconsin's last remaining drive-in movie
theaters, is being targeted to become the home
of a car dealership and a multifamily housing complex.
The racetrack will begin its 51st season
Saturday, regardless of future plans for
redevelopment, said Jim Wehner, general manager
of Midwest Cos., Milwaukee, the parent company
of the track's owner, Midwest Development Corp.
"Plans are in the works for development of the
property, but we will be open for a full season
of racing this year," Wehner said.
Hales Corners Speedway offers various classes of
automotive racing about 25 nights a year,
attracting 4,000 to 5,000 people each night, Wehner said.
John and Lynn Kaishian, owners of Midwest Cos.,
have selected Centres Inc., Brookfield, to
redevelop the racetrack site, Centres spokesman
Brian Riordan said.
"We were the selected bidder, but right now,
it's preliminary. We have been chosen to work
with the Kaishians, but that's all I can say," Riordan said.
The 1998 assessed value for the 40-acre track
site is $832,200, Franklin city officials said.
The new development could involve some large-box
retailers, according to the source, who asked
not to be named.
Franklin Mayor Patrick Murray said he wasn't
aware of any specific plans to develop the site,
but he would prefer a mixed use of the property.
"I'm not real thrilled with a bunch of big old
boxes. To develop it specifically tenant-focused
is not the way to go about it," Murray said. "I
certainly would not want to pave the whole thing
over and put big boxes on it and say, `Have a
Some Franklin residents have complained over the
years about the noise at the track. However, the
track was constructed shortly after World War
II, long before any residential housing was
built nearby, Murray said.
"It's like that old saying, you move next to a
farm, and then you complain about living next to
a farm," Murray said.
In the past, the Kaishians have considered
building a new racetrack at a different site in
Franklin, Wehner said.
Dodge dealership planned
Like the Hales Corners Speedway, time and
adjoining development have passed by the 41 Twins site.
The drive-in is owned by Standard Theatres Inc.,
Brookfield, and had a 1998 assessed value of $924,000.
Schlossmanns Dodge City, which owns Dodge
automobile dealerships in Wauwatosa and
Milwaukee, plans to develop most of the drive-in
site's eastern 30 acres along 27th Street near
the Oak Creek border as a Dodge dealership,
Franklin city officials said.
"I know (the Schlossmanns) have a contract to
purchase it with the owners of the property, but
there are others interested, as well," said
Bruce Kaniewski, Franklin's planning and zoning administrator.
Schlossmans' plans also call for two smaller
auto dealerships, one retail store and a
stormwater retention pond, Franklin Ald. Chris Magyar said.
Additionally, the plan calls for the other 40
acres of the site to be developed for
multifamily apartments that would be rented at
market rates, Magyar said. The apartments would
not be targeted for low-income tenants, she said.
Michael Schlossmann, president of Dodge City,
declined to comment about the project, other
than to say the dealerships have applied with
the city to pursue the development.
Franklin city officials discussed the
preliminary plans for the project during a
meeting with neighbors of the 41 Twins site April 13.
"We had a neighborhood meeting, and the
neighbors are very receptive to this, because
the drive-in is in such disrepair," Kaniewski said.
The drive-in and the racetrack are local icons
of an era gone buy that have fallen victim to
urban sprawl, Murray said. Long-vacant farm
fields in Franklin and nearby Oak Creek are
progressively being paved over by commercial,
industrial, residential and retail development, he said.
"A lot of my old friends grew up in Franklin on
those family farms, and it's a real kick in the head," Murray said.