A home in downtown Franklin is sitting empty, two years after a fire tore through the building.
The building at 399 N. Main St. used to house four apartments. Restoration work is at a standstill since the electrical fire in 2013. The fire was contained to one apartment, but all four units had smoke damage.
Owners John and Bette Emry want to give the building away but have had trouble finding someone to take it. Before the fire, the building was assessed at about $155,000, but now it is assessed at $35,000, Bette Emry said. They believe renovating the building to make it livable could cost $80,000 to $120,000, John Emry said.
They are not willing to put that amount of money into the building. They also own and are landlords for other apartment buildings in Franklin that need their attention as well, Bette Emry said.
What the Emrys do not want is to bulldoze the building, since it was built in 1884.
“It’s not a matter of ‘I want to get rid of it,'” Emry said. “I want to see it become a jewel, a legacy. It has that potential to be much more than a building.”
The Emrys have talked to multiple nonprofit organizations about giving them the property. Last year, the Franklin Development Corp., a group created and funded by the city, considered buying 399 N. Main St. and 397 N. Main St., which are both owned by the Emrys. Purchasing the homes would have cost $500,000, which was too much for the organization, Franklin director of community development Krista Linke said.
Within the past year, the Emrys also talked to Atterbury Job Corps Center about turning the building into a place for students to live while training to join the workforce, Bette Emry said.
So far, no organization has offered to buy or renovate the building.
Bette Emry also is considering turning the four apartments into emergency housing, in case a home catches fire and a resident or family needs a place to stay overnight, she said.