A Franklin organization that has focused on building improvements along downtown streets could eventually move its focus to the back of the properties.
Since the Franklin Development Corp. began giving out grants for façade improvements for downtown Franklin businesses, at least 10 property owners have asked about whether they could use the money to improve the part of the buildings that face alleys. Officials have so far said no, because the money was needed for the parts of buildings that faced streets, but those requests could get another look in the future, said Krista Linke, the city’s director of community development.
The key issue will be to make sure the organization has enough money to afford those grants, she said.
The Franklin Development Corp., which was created and funded by the city with tax dollars from the city’s tax-increment financing, or TIF, districts, has about $500,000 for the façade grant program each year, Linke said. That pays for about five projects a year, and the demand is still steady for those funds, she said.
But board members have been talking about key areas in the city where façade improvements along the alleys also would be beneficial, because that is either the business’ main entrance or the alley is a popular spot for pedestrian traffic, Linke said. That could include the alleys near the Artcraft Theatre, Greek’s Pizzeria & Tapp Room and the Elks Lodge, where pedestrians often use alleys to get to those businesses, Linke said.
More weight would be given to requests where the alley backs up to a public parking lot or a busy street, making that side of the building more visible to residents, visitors and traffic, she said. In some cases, that part of the building is highly visible, and those projects should be considered, she said.
Deciding which ones to do and when is something the board is considering, because the members don’t want to short any of the requests to improve façades that face the streets, Linke said.
“We’re not sure where to start and stop. Because funding is limited, it’s hard to do that. And we just don’t know we have gotten to the point to do that,” Linke said.