Franklin parking projects planned: City officials target area near I-65 exit

The eyesore, vacant hotel at the Interstate 65 exit in Franklin was torn down.

Millions of dollars were spent building a roundabout, trails, towers and new streets that drivers see as they enter the city.

The stage is set for a new hotel and restaurants and potential future development off King Street, just west of I-65.

But one aspect of the city’s gateway still could be improved, and city officials thought they could easily get the work done.

Semis routinely park in a paved lot behind the McDonald’s on King Street, and Mayor Steve Barnett wanted the truck-stop style parking gone as visitors will be driving past the space to get to a new hotel or restaurants.

Taxpayer money will be used to redesign the lot, creating parking spots for cars and buses, with greenspace and a picnic area in the middle. The project is estimated to cost up to $250,000, paid for with money the city borrowed to extend the life of one of its tax-increment financing, or TIF, districts that is meant to be spent to improve the east side, but McDonald’s will continue to own the property, Barnett said.

The work is one of three projects planned across the city to improve or add parking space.

The city also is working to add a new parking lot on South Main Street, just north of the bridge over Youngs Creek. That lot would offer additional parking, along with landscaping and lighting meant to blend in with the other improvements along that road, which officials view as a gateway into downtown.

Members of the city redevelopment commission approved spending up to $46,500 on design costs, but construction costs have not been set since the project is not expected to happen until next year, city engineer Mark Richards said. The money would come from the city’s TIF districts, which set aside property taxes from certain businesses for economic development and infrastructure projects.

The third project is to repave, redraw lines and replace lighting and landscaping in the parking lot where the Oren Wright building used to stand, off Jefferson Street, just west of Jackson Street. The redevelopment commission approved spending up to $40,000 on the project, but lighting may cost more, Richards said.

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