3 Projects to Watch in Franklin in 2016

revised harpeth square

As the new year approaches, it’s time to look into the projects to watch in Franklin which will shape the city in 2016.

First Tennessee Bank

The 1970’s era First Tennessee Bank, located at 231 Public Square was granted approval by the Franklin Historic Zoning Commission on Monday, Dec. 14 for the restoration and alteration of the building.

Charles Crews of Crews Investment Properties is the main investor in the buy, along with developer Bernie Butler of D9 Development and Brian Schiedemeyer of Heartland Partners.

D9 Development, known for the Brownstones at First and Church, is a commercial development company from Mississippi. In the Franklin Historic Zoning Commission meeting, Butler shared his plans to bring the 231 Public Square location up to par with the other historic buildings on Franklin Square. These plans include adding an up to date Class A office space, a first floor restaurant with an outdoor patio area and a rooftop restaurant/bar. The building is currently 32,000 square feet but this update will increase the square footage to 44,000.

“The Franklin Square is the heart and soul of Williamson County, and has been for over 200 years,” said Butler in a D9 Development press release. “This quadrant of the Square is often the first impression for visitors to downtown Franklin, and a place that locals may walk or drive by several times a day. The new 231 Public Square building will meet the standard of Franklin’s rich history while introducing more beautifully finished Class A office space and a four-star dining option — something we don’t have downtown today.”

First Tennessee sold the building for $3.45 million, according the Williamson County property transfers and the project will break ground in May 2016. The project is scheduled to be completed by summer 2017.

Butler says he is thankful for the support of the City of Franklin, the downtown residents and merchants for caring about what is developed in the Downtown Franklin area and endorsing his vision for the future of Franklin Square.

Mack Hatcher Parkway

The city of Franklin may see an expansion of Mack Hatcher Parkway by this time next year, which is long-overdue and in high demand with the city seeing a growth in population.

The Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) executive board drafted a 2040 Regional Transportation Plan in early December, where the board has designated finances for several major roadways in Middle Tennessee. The federal funding used for these projects totals $8.5 billion. Projects include U.S. Highway 31, Franklin Pike, Wilson Pike, Nolensville Pike, Duplex Road and Mack Hatcher Parkway.

This plan also recommends another $1 billion to go toward roadway reconstruction and multi-modal upgrades in Williamson County.

Mack Hatcher Parkway was included in the short term MPO plan, which is projected to start in between 2016-2020. This would fund the northwest extension of Mack Hatcher Parkway from Hillsboro Road and the widening of an 18.5 miles of state Route 96 from Arno Road to Overall Creek near Murfreesboro. But the widening of Mack Hatcher from Murfreesboro Road to Polk Place Drive in Franklin is not included in the planning horizon until 2031-2040. The northwest quadrant alone will cost at least $30.1 million.

Harpeth Square Hotel

The $82 million Harpeth Square development, slated for Downtown Franklin has yet to see real improvements since 2014.

Harpeth Associates LLC principal Rod Heller and builder Jay Franks have been acquiring land since 2001 for the block between Main and Bridge streets and between First and Second avenues for the future work.

“The one thing we don’t have downtown is a destination hotel,” Heller said. “We desperately need it. Franklin is a gem, but looking at this block, it’s a mess. I was astonished that nobody was doing anything,” Heller said. “Usually, you worry about, ‘Where are my amenities?’ Here, Franklin is the amenity.”

Heller and Franks planned to turn this block into 155 luxury apartments, a 100-120 room boutique hotel, retail space and a parking deck. But throughout the planning, residents have issued statements of concerns to related parties.

Revised Harpeth Square Plans Approved

The Historic Zoning Commission’s vote for this project was tallied at 4-3 and locals have several concerns with the city building a new residential hub with the rise in population, traffic issues, space for residency and and the slim financing.

Since the fundraising began for this project, Harpeth Associates LLC has only raised $7 million.

The hotel alone will cost $32 million to develop (roughly 40 percent of the project’s total price tag), Heller said. Harpeth Associates has selected Senate Hospitality Group to handle that component.

Heller had envisioned asking for public support in the form of a tax increment financing district in 2013. This tax increment has not been finalized.

Investors plan to keep four historic buildings on the block, including the Old Franklin Store, which stood during the Battle of Franklin and now houses Landmark Booksellers.

Construction could begin in early 2016, which would mean the development could open in late 2017. Specific design details are still subject to city review.

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