Develpment Update: Harpeth Square Part 2

The developer for the Harpeth Square project says they will be getting numbers back from contractors on Thursday.

“That will tell us what we need to do from here,” said Rod Heller, the developer behind Harpeth Associates, the firm building the project.

Heller said that after considering the numbers Harpeth Associates will call a press conference to announce further plans, most likely in the middle of August.

For the center of tourism in the county, downtown Franklin lacks one conspicuous item. A hotel. The Harpeth Square project has made headlines and most likely you heard of it, at one point or another, as it wended its way through the approval process over the past year and a half.

Here is an update on the development of the project, which when completed will breath new life and light new lights on almost an entire block of Main Street. What were empty lots and run-down houses will be Harpeth Square.

First some background: Harpeth Square sits here:



The shaded area along the Harpeth River, Main Street, 2nd Avenue and Bridge Street will hold a 115-room four-star hotel, 155 luxury apartments, about 30,000 square feet of retail space for restaurants and shops. These three sections will hug a 600-space parking garage open to the public.

photo (30)

In the graphic on the left, yellow is retail and restaurants. Black is hotel and green is apartments. The parking garage will sit in the middle of all four floors.

The street that can be seen is Bridge Street on the left and First Avenue on the top.

Project Progress

Originally the developer, Harpeth Associates, hoped to start construction in Spring 2016, but now into summer construction on the project does not yet have a date.

“The project is progressing well,” said owner Rod Heller. “It is an $86 million project- it is very complicated, and there have been many details to work out. In the next few weeks we will announce some big news.”

While Heller said Harpeth Associates does not expect final approval on the project until September, the hardest part is over: city approval of the overall development plan.

Most likely, the project will not need to go before the Planning Commission or Board of Mayor and Alderman for any additional approvals, Chris Bridgewater, director of Franklin Building and Neighborhood Services said.

However, various city departments must inspect the details of the plans before stamping actual permits to build.

“They have got quite a number of permits- demolition, grading permits and infrastructure permits to some extent, and they have also pulled a permit for the parking garage, almost,” Bridgewater.

Commercial development in Franklin progresses according to a development plan, or master plan for the project. After gaining approval from the Planning Commission and Board of Mayor and Alderman of a development plan, Harpeth has worked with city officials in various departments on the next two steps, the site plan and the building plan.

The site plan deals with the infrastructure, water, plumbing, electricity, grading, streets, safety and so on. The building plan, after the officials approve the site plans, presents the actual architecture, facade and what everyone will eventually, or not, ooh and ahh at.

Currently, Harpeth Square has nearly finished getting approvals and permits for its site plan.

“They have one giant building that covers a little less than a block,” Bridgewater said. “They have apartments in one section, the hotel in another, retail and restaurants and shops in another and the parking garage in the middle serving all of it.”

History of the Project


revised harpeth square

Approved in May of 2015, the project nearly did not pass. The Historic Zoning Commission originally voted it down, 3-4, concerned that its size and scope were not quite in line with the historic feel of downtown. However, revised plans to Harpeth Square changed some things in the way of the outside design look, such as a painted and recessed fourth story, but the scale and size remain the same. Its original plans  passed the BOMA unanimously before the HZC put on the brakes and forced  the developers to revise the plans a bit, but construction is set to begin this summer.

With the delay, the developers hope to complete construction by the end of 2017 or early 2018.

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