News broke early this morning that the parcel that long promoted the site for the future Fountains of Franklin development is now under a foreclosure lawsuit from M&I Bank. You may recall that this site was proposed for upscale retail and dining several years ago, and the label of the Fountains extended all the way east to Andy's back in 2007.
The developer, David Hintzman, put a lot of effort and work into that site to make it successful. He worked to make the potential "downtown" plan get off the ground with bringing in developer Devo Properties and anchor Sendik's Food Market. In 2008, his vision of something really getting off the ground was almost achieved, with Azana Salon & Spa proposed and receiving approvals and a large shopping center operator looking to expand operations into Franklin.
What Hintzman ended up facing, though, was a huge roadblock in terms of the property owned by the Fox family. During that situation, a complaint was filed against the Foxes and things really heated up. It was argued that the Foxes' property is in violation of several items, including their special use approvals. What ended up happening was essentially nothing; the city has been dragging their feet along in terms of enforcement and another lawsuit opened up between the Fountains and Foxes.
At the end of this, it looks like Franklin and its residents have been involved in a tragedy. While the residents of Franklin desire higher-end retailers like Coldwater Creek, Ann Taylor, and Jos. A. Bank, our own city, I believe, did little-to-nothing to work to make that happen. The opportunity was there to turn the entire area, from the Fountains of Franklin site eastward to 51st Street, into a mini Bayshore Town Center, with many retailers and restaurants that residents right now travel great distances to shop or dine at.
It is very disappointing that the ball was dropped yet again, and taxpayers (via the lost potential of increased tax revenue at the Fountains) end up paying the price.