The view from a drone in the sky showed a Franklin man what guests would see from a new, four-story hotel: his backyard.
Dave Dowden is concerned about the height of a new hotel planned just south of his neighborhood, and the materials that would be used to build it — both of which would require special approvals from the city.
Dowden and some of his neighbors in the Fairway Lakes neighborhood have raised concerns about those issues with the city’s board of zoning appeals, which is considering requests for exceptions to the city’s standards on the height of the building, which is proposed to be four stories tall, and the exterior building materials, which don’t meet the city’s requirements for masonry, wood or stone. Neighbors got the proposal moved back a month so that they can speak to the board about their concerns at the meeting in August.
“I will do anything I can to protect my home,” Dowden said. “We like our house, we built it like we wanted to live in it until we couldn’t anymore.”
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Residents had always expected the open field just south of them would be developed, but they had hoped for restaurants, possibly a grocery store and offices, they said. They are concerned about the traffic a hotel would bring in, the loss of privacy with guests being able to see into their yards and that their property values could decrease.
The hotel does not need a special approval to be built, since zoning on that property allows for a hotel, but it would need exceptions approved for the height and materials used.
Rob and Amy Richardson, who own City View Apartments on the west side of the city, proposed building an 80-room hotel, which will be run by the Marriott brand. Both of the exceptions they are seeking follow the design for Marriott hotels, Rob Richardson said.
City planning officials recommended the requests be denied. The city board of zoning appeals will consider the requests Aug. 2.
A high-quality hotel is something Franklin has needed for years, and the city is currently missing out on chances to make money when people come for special events and then leave to stay elsewhere, Richardson said.
While Richardson knows about the concerns residents have raised, he has also heard from at least 50 others across the city who want to see the hotel built, he said.
“We have heard from people all over the community on how great they think this is,” Richardson said.
Franklin Mayor Steve Barnett said he supports the hotel and the exceptions the developer is requesting. He views the hotel as a move to help promote economic development, because businesses who want to come to the city and current businesses have both asked for a high-quality hotel for when clients or executives visit. Existing businesses often send their visitors to stay in Greenwood or Edinburgh, Barnett said.
The hotel also could be an anchor for development in the area, attracting other businesses, such as restaurants, to the east side of Franklin, he said.
“I appreciate every neighborhood and every citizen, but I think this is the right thing to do, for the betterment of the whole city,” Barnett said.
Residents said they would prefer the hotel to be developed on another part of the property and also have raised concerns about the details of the proposal. They question why the building should be four stories tall, when city rules specify a maximum height shorter than that, and why the developer isn’t using the required materials on the exterior of the building.
William Cain, who lives in Fairway Lakes, wants to see development in Franklin and doesn’t necessarily take issue with a hotel being developed.
“But it doesn’t need to be a four-story monstrosity,” Cain said.
He worries about what the development will do to home values, his neighbors losing their privacy in their own backyards and what the hotel will look like years in the future, especially using the proposed building material, which he views as being lower quality, he said.
Cain moved into the neighborhood 26 years ago, and at the time one of the hotels on the other side of King Street was a Carlton Lodge, where family would stay when they came from out of town. But the hotel has changed hands and hasn’t been updated, and friends and family no longer stay there. He worries about whether this new hotel is needed, and what it will look like in the future, especially if the community can’t keep it full with visitors, he said.
“Progression is a good thing. You just have to realize something is going to happen there. We just need to make sure it’s not an eyesore and something we’re all going to be embarrassed of,” Cain said.
Richardson said the building is proposed as four stories tall because that is the prototype by Marriott, a well-known, worldwide brand, he said. And just as much as residents don’t want people looking at them in their yards, hotel guests won’t want to be seen in their rooms, he said.
And the material being used will allow the building to be architecturally appealing, with the first floor being recessed. The product being used allows the building to be designed differently than stone or brick, and has also been tested and shown to have a higher insulation value and can be changed in color more easily, Richardson said.
The same materials were used on Franklin Community High School when it was built years ago, Barnett said.
The building is being designed to be appealing to the eyes, which Marriott is now doing to replace large signs, that many communities don’t want. Instead, the design of the building is meant to catch people’s eyes, he said.
“This is not just going to be a box; it will have a lot of angles and be architecturally appealing. Marriott did that because people don’t like big signs standing out front, so they created a building that is appealing to the eye, so people see it and say ‘wow, what is that,” he said.
Other residents also questioned why the building couldn’t be constructed on another part of the property, closer to King Street.
Dr. Tony Gannon, who lives next to the proposed location, is worried about the lights from the development, the increased activity and traffic, the loss of privacy and that his property values will decline. And he thinks it could be built on other parts of the property, he said.
“It’s not exactly what most people would like living in a nice neighborhood,” he said.
Donald Peek Jr. said his home is his long-term investment, and he doesn’t want its value to drop. He worries that the added traffic will hurt his values, and said he never expected a hotel would be developed on the property.
“With that being my huge investment, I don’t want to see that collapse,” he said.
“I just need to voice my opinion to protect my investment.”
The location on the property makes the most sense based on future development along King Street, Richardson said.
A hotel doesn’t need to be closest to the road, and those pieces of land should instead be reserved for businesses that would most benefit from street frontage. Those are also the highest value properties, and can bring in the most money, he said.
“If you put it on King Street, you devalue all the property behind it; no one can see them,” Richardson said.
Richardson said he has also heard from residents who support the project and that bringing a Marriott brand hotel to Franklin is a big deal for the city.
“This is a significant happening for the city of Franklin to have a Marriott,” he said.