Hotel plan moves ahead

Proposal draws attention from other developers

Plans for a long-needed hotel at the Interstate 65 exit in Franklin are still underway, and the proposal is immediately getting attention from other developers who want to build restaurants or coffee shops nearby.

The entire plan was under review after the city nixed developers Rob and Amy Richardson’s proposal to build apartments, as well as a hotel, near the new roundabout off King Street in an area the city is focusing on developing as a gateway to the city.

The Richardsons, who own City View Apartments in Franklin, decided to proceed with a plan to build a hotel, but residents of nearby subdivisions have questions and concerns and want to make sure steps are taken to protect their quality of life and property values, several residents said to the Franklin Redevelopment Commission this week.

The redevelopment commission voted to move ahead with the plan to give the Franklin Development Corp. $560,000 that the Richardsons would then use to purchase property for the project. Final approval is expected next week.

The project would still have to go through the typical review and building approval process with city boards, but residents asked the redevelopment commission to guarantee some protections, such as not allowing a new street that would connect the roundabout to restaurants or other shops to also connect with the subdivision. Rather, that street should head south to connect with the city’s new frontage road along King Street, residents said.

After the debate and discussion at this week’s meeting, the city’s revised documents on the project will outline that the new street may not connect to Fairway Lakes Drive.

They also are concerned about what buffer will protect their neighborhoods from the new development and are asking for a privacy fence.

The city’s release of the incentive money will hinge on the specifics, such as the brand of the hotel. The Richardsons are working with a Ohio-based hotel owner and operator which is recruiting an 80-room, three-story Hilton or Hampton brand hotel as the top options, they said.

The hotel will sit on 3.5 acres of land. The remainder of the property, about six acres, will be developed into restaurants and shops, Rob Richardson said.

“There’s a lot of conversations taking place right now,” Richardson said. “The hotel, it’s a tremendous magnet.”

Terry Lancer, a resident of neighboring Fairway Lakes, supports the hotel project but wants more details about the project, specifically the buffer between the subdivision and the development. He wants commitments from the developer as the incentive is OK’d by the city.

Fairway Lakes resident Dave Dowden agreed, and doesn’t want to know that the Richardsons will consider moving the road or examining the buffer area. He wants a solid plan and guarantees.

“This ‘maybe’ stuff just doesn’t get it,” Dowden said. He is asking the city to take steps to protect residents, their investments and peace and quiet. He has taken steps to learn how much a privacy fence will cost, and wants the developers to build it.

“All we can do is try to protect ourselves behind this drawing,” Dowden said, referring to the developers’ conceptual drawing of the property.

A month ago, the entire project was in limbo when the Richardsons wanted to build a hotel and a 120-unit apartment complex. The redevelopment commission said no because the vision for the city’s gateway and the land zoning never included multi-family housing, and the Richardsons weren’t sure they wanted to proceed with the project.

They came back this month, after moving the hotel further back on the property and making room for restaurants and shops to be built closer to King Street. One developer is interested in the entire front four-acre parcel, Rob Richardson said.

The redevelopment commission will vote to approve the incentive at its meeting on April 18, but the money will not be made available until the brand of the hotel is determined.

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