Project in need of more funding

City asked to help finish downtown co-working space

A planned co-working space in Franklin may not open as soon as officials had hoped and will likely need more funding before it will be ready.

Costs to remodel and finish the Jefferson Street building were higher than expected, including for security and furniture, and the owner decided to do all the planned work to the building at once to avoid future interruptions. Now, he is looking to ask the city to help chip in on the project.

Greg Leugers owns Hometown Insurance and Real Estate at 26 E. Jefferson St., and he has offered the second floor to be used as a co-working space. The city has long discussed having a co-working space in Franklin where small businesses, start-up companies and entrepreneurs could have office space at a lower price to help them get their business running.

Leugers had been working with the city on funding for the project, including $48,000 set aside in a voluntary fee businesses pay when they get tax breaks from the city.

In addition to that, he is also seeking a $50,000 loan from the Franklin Development Corp., a nonprofit organization created and funded by the city, and is considering asking for a $38,000 grant from the Franklin Redevelopment Commission, a city board that oversees the spending of tax dollars collected in the city’s tax-increment financing, or TIF, districts that set aside property tax dollars for economic development and infrastructure projects, he said.

Leugers plans to invest $75,000 in the project, along with the $50,000 loan he is hoping to get, he said.

But one concern is whether the Franklin Development Corp. can afford the request.

With money already pledged or spent on other projects, the organization has no money left in its commercial loan fund and has about $32,800 left for its programs overall, which includes grants for facade improvements to businesses and money to help residents fix up their homes. The organization has been funded by the city redevelopment commission, using TIF district funding.

Leugers initially had planned to do the work to his building, which includes remodeling, furniture, lighting and an elevator, in phases. But now, he would like to do all the work at once so that businesses that set up in the co-working space won’t need to be interrupted by future construction work, he said.

“It needs to be done right from the get-go,” he said.

“I want that vibe where people say, ‘Man, this is the place I want to be.”

Some of that comes from making the building look unique and different from traditional office space, through features of the building, furniture and lighting. Leugers also had hoped to install a rooftop patio area, but had to cut that for now in order to lower the cost of the project, he said.

Some costs also came in higher than expected, such as security for the building, including access cards for workers and security cameras, which was about $10,000 more than he had expected, he said.

Leugers hopes to be able to afford some of those costs in the future, he said.

But for now, he wants to focus on the most needed work to the building, buying quality furniture and marketing the space, which is key to making the project successful, he said.

Members of the Franklin Development Corp. plan to consider the loan request next month.

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Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at agoeller@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2718.