Aldermen get a look at design plans for The Hill property during Tuesday work session

Franklin Mayor Ken Moore (left) and Aldermen Pearl Bransford and Clyde Barnhill listen as discussion takes place during Tuesday’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen work session.
Photo by John McBryde

FROM: Franklin Homepage

By JOHN McBRYDE

Franklin aldermen had the opportunity to revisit The Hill property as they were presented with a couple of design options from city of Franklin staff Tuesday night during the Board of Mayor and Aldermen work session.

City Administrator Eric Stuckey said the designs are pretty close to what was envisioned when aldermen voted last year to allow what is now known as The Hill property located at 405 Fifth Avenue to be developed with affordable or workforce dwelling units.

“There’s enough design work that we put in, at least on a preliminary basis, that we might be able to accomplish [this] without having to spend that much time and money to do it on a more formal process,” Stuckey said. “If the board lays out a pretty straightforward vision, we can work back from that.”

The two designs are similar, with the exception that one includes a building that could serve as a community center or a social service facility. The first shows 29 townhomes along with two big houses that would hold four units each, while the second also consists of 29 townhomes and one big house with four units. The other house could be used as a community center.

“These two illustrations will serve for letters of interest to better understand how a development partner would approach this property, but also give them some guidance for what we would realistically expect for this property,” Franklin assistant City Administrator Vernon Gerth said.

The concept of a community center seemed to be the main sticking point for a couple of aldermen. Alderman-at-Large Brandy Blanton said she favors the idea of including more units and doing without a community center, while Dana McLendon, 2nd Ward, said the development can only succeed if it has a gathering place for residents.

“I would be more open to seeing the iteration that has the two big houses as opposed to the community center,” Blanton said. “I see this as an extension of Hard Bargain. Ty’s House (the office and meeting area for Hard Bargain) is already established there, and I think that could serve as a community center.

“I think when we’re really trying to move forward on an initiative we’ve been kicking down the street, the most housing we can get is the way I think we should go.”

McLendon differed sharply, saying a neighborhood such as The Hill needs a place for residents to congregate.

“I have advocated strongly for the inclusion of a civic facility from the beginning,” he said. “To place 100 or more residents in a rather compact area with only a pocket park at best for them to congregate is a disservice to the people that will be living there.”

“But perhaps more importantly, we have to succeed here. This is, in my view, a pilot project. We have to demonstrate to the community at large that an affordable housing project can be attractive and value-added for the community at large and particularly for the community [in the neighborhood].”

City staff has discussed steps in developing this city property and will continue to seek further guidance from the board. The next step in developing any property of this nature is to prepare a development plan and entitle the property, according to the memorandum presented.

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