For years, speculation has swirled about what could be coming to the area just off Franklin’s Interstate 65 exit.
A grocery store to serve residents on the east side, a sit-down restaurant that could attract traffic off the interstate and a new hotel that could host business leaders and conferences have all been listed as possibilities.
Now, that development is getting closer to a reality.
The city is working on a multi-million project that is creating a gateway into the city on the east side but is also rerouting roads and extending infrastructure, such as sewer service, to the undeveloped properties off King Street, just west of I-65.
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The lack of utility service has long been a reason that development to the east has been delayed, city officials said.
Mayor Joe McGuinness has heard all the rumors of what might be built near the interstate, from the types of restaurants to specific hotels.
But he knows that discussions haven’t reached that level yet because he regularly communicates with the owner of the undeveloped property off King Street, he said.
“I do know she has had some communications, no one specific, and no one to that level of detail,” McGuinness said. “It’s more from the 30,000-foot level.”
So instead of talking about specific brands or businesses, the owner has been talking with developers about the types of businesses that could go there, such as a hotel, restaurant and retail shops, McGuinness said.
That development is getting closer to happening, especially with the work the city is doing in the area, said Krista Linke, Franklin community development director.
The city is spending $6 million on multiple projects in that area including creating a roundabout in the commercial area to replace two 90-degree turns and bringing utilities to the undeveloped property, Linke said. In addition, the city is also creating a new gateway into Franklin in the area, with trails, landscaping, lighting and features, such as two towers, that will welcome visitors to the east side.
The area already has a gas station and fast food restaurants, but officials have long discussed wanting more businesses to locate there. And there is room, with more than 20 acres of undeveloped property around what has already developed off King Street.
But exactly what will be coming isn’t known yet, McGuinness said.
“There is definitely interest but nothing specific,” he said.