The old partitions that used to divide the factory floor where garments were made during World War II are coming down.

Dated electrical wiring is being stripped away.

Timber beams and posts that will shine in a new event venue are being sandblasted and brought back to life.

Since a local development company and the city of Franklin announced plans in March to turn a massive historic building south of downtown into an event venue, shopping area and upscale condominiums, the specific design and features imagined for the inside have been tweaked, examined and tweaked again.

When Bemis Group finishes the work in early 2017, expect an event venue that can accommodate 500 people for large weddings, festivals and even indoor winter parties similar to the festivals conducted downtown in the summer months. The events center will be operated by Kwang Casey, owner of Greenwood restaurant and brewery Oaken Barrel.

Soon, the homes next to the garment factory on Wayne Street near Main Street will come down to make way for a parking lot. Wayne Street, from Main to Home streets, is also getting rebuilt.

Finishing the event venue space is the first priority, said Billy Bemis, co-owner of Bemis Group. He expects it to be complete and ready to host festivals or weddings in the spring of 2017.

They aren’t booking the space yet, but have already started getting calls and interest from residents looking for space for an event, he said.

The portion of the building that will become shops and housing will be under construction next year, after the events venue is complete. Bemis Group plans to recruit new shops to Franklin, not relocate businesses already located downtown.

Bemis Group estimates the remodeling work for the Varynit Mills Garment Factory at $3,775,000. Tax dollars from a Franklin tax-increment financing, or TIF, district are covering about $1.4 million of the cost, which includes rehabilitating the building and costs associated with purchasing neighborhood homes.

At the same time, the city is beginning work on Wayne Street. When the street construction is finished, it will mimic Monroe Street, with new pavement, sidewalks and street lights. The city is spending $563,618 to rebuild the road, and another $394,123 to build three parking lots in the area.

Michele Holtkamp is editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2774.