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What will replace Dotsons and the block of S. 1st Ave?

The prospect of a new hotel along the Harpeth River in downtown Franklin hinged on a change to a city amendment that defines the floodway.  The city declined to make the change, so the project is as of now stalled.

Chartwell Hospitality, in addition to landowner Preston Ingram, proposed the construction of a three-story Hampton Inn and Suites at First Avenue and Main Street. However, the Flood Fringe Overlay currently prevents a business like a hotel to be built on the land.

It is the location currently occupied by Metro Spy Shop, which rents out a piece of a building space on that property; the remainder of the lot sits vacant where Dotson’s Restaurant once operated. The 100-room hotel would match the aesthetic standards for Franklin and has already been reviewed by the Franklin Historic Design Review Committee. However, the floodway blocks building of that kind on the land.

“Based on the city’s regulation, if it’s within the FFO, there are only certain things you can do within that,” architect Jeff Heinze said. “It’s limited in uses. … You are allowed to fill and cut within the floodplain. You would go through that first before having the area removed from the FFO. This process is complicated and long.”

Heinze said part of the proposed site would never be allowed to undergo that change, so the developers wanted to know from the Franklin Municipal Planning Commission and the Board of Mayor and Alderman if they would allow them to have a unique structure built above what could flood.

As the site’s landowner, Ingram has toyed around with ideas with what to do with property since he purchased it a few years ago. He said he wanted to allow Chartwell Hospitality to bring the Hampton Inn and Suites to downtown Franklin given their track-record in other cities nationwide.

“They have built several hotels here, and I have invested with them,” Ingram said. “I’ve invested with them in Kansas City, Pigeon Forge, Charlotte, and it’s a great organization. They do things right. They approached me to take a look, and I think it would be great for downtown Franklin. It fits the mold for downtown Franklin, and it looks like a positive thing for the city and the tax dollars.”

Ingram said the gap in the market for hotels in downtown drew him to the idea.

“Franklin should be very appreciative we have come up with this,” he said. “It meets the budget of the folks that would probably like to stay over here.”

No final decisions on the potential hotel or its relation with the floodway have been made by the planning commission or BOMA. More discussions on the project will likely happen this summer.

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