The Business Journal


April 19, 1999


Developers target Franklin racetrack, outdoor theater


Steven Jagler


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

nice day.'"


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.



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