A vacant shopping center near a key entrance into Franklin will get a facelift.

The center, located southwest of the city’s Interstate 65 exit, used to house a tanning salon and a bar but has been vacant for years.

Now, the owner wants to bring in new tenants and plans $100,000 in renovations. This month, a Franklin taxpayer-funded organization approved helping cover those costs.

City officials say the work to the building will be a start to an overall plan for improvements around the city’s entrance off I-65.

Over the next two months, property owner Trent Petro wants to give the building new paint, a repaved parking lot and new light fixtures. The strip mall has been empty for at least three years, Petro said. The center is set up for six storefronts at about 13,000 square feet each, but he has no tenants scheduled to move in. If a tenant wanted to use multiple storefronts, it could, he said.

Petro purchased the property in February and wants the outside renovations done within the next two months. The goal is to update the look of the shopping center to attract new tenants, he said. He wants to apply stucco to the façade of the building and add an awning or canopy that extends over the walkway for people walking from the parking lot to the businesses.

“With all the work going on out there that the city plans to do, I’d like to do this right and not just halfway do it,” Petro said.

The Franklin Development Corp., a nonprofit agency that uses tax dollars to upgrade buildings, unanimously approved giving Petro $35,000 toward renovating the property. In the future, the development corporation could consider giving him an additional $15,000 for renovations. Petro would supply the remaining $50,000.

Those renovations will kickstart a slew of upgrades for King Street, Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness said. The city plans to repair King Street, install medians between the east- and westbound lanes and erect 34-foot pillars to welcome traffic coming off I-65 into Franklin.

“I think this would be a real opportunity to kick off what we have told the community that we’re going to do beside the I-65 development,” McGuinness said.

The mayor has been talking to property owners on King Street, including one who owns a large property on the north side of the road. Hotels, restaurants or grocery stores have all been considered for the area.

Petro said he would like to land a tenant that would bring visitors to the area, such as an office or specialty store, rather than a convenience store or other business that can be found in lots of other places.

At a glance

The owner of the strip mall off East King Street wants to invest $100,000 into renovating the building. Here’s a look at what the renovation money will be going toward:

  • New lighting
  • New landscaping
  • A new parking lot
  • Fresh paint
  • New awning or canopy
  • ADA-compliant ramp