A long discussed plan to relocate flood-prone businesses from downtown Franklin is finally launching, with the city preparing to make an offer on one property.
Even if the city only buys that one property, the 6 acres of land would be enough to add a water retention area and an entertainment space, such as an amphitheater, where the city could host festivals and events, Franklin Mayor Steve Barnett said.
The Franklin Redevelopment Commission approved setting aside $232,500 to buy the property off Jefferson Street, west of Jackson Street, where Bastin Logan Water Services is located and another $150,000 as an incentive to help the company move to a new location.
Because the property is in a floodway, the city will not be able to build on the land and instead plans to tear down the business building and use the land as greenspace, in a project the city is calling the Youngs Creek Greenways Trail, Barnett said.
The well drilling company has flooded in past years, and was one of a few businesses that have expressed interest in moving away from that area of downtown that is prone to flooding, Barnett said.
Bastin Logan is the first company to begin negotiating with the city, Barnett said. Other property owners are interested, but no official discussions have started, he said. Bastin Logan officials declined to comment.
Setting aside the money is the first step toward the city buying the property, but the process to purchase the property and give the business time to move to a new location will take more than a year, Barnett said.
The price for the property was determined based on two appraisals, and officials also discussed offering the company $150,000 as an incentive to move, but that won’t cover all the costs of building a new facility and moving, Barnett said. The cost of moving to a new location is the biggest concern to other business owners he has talked with about the city potentially buying their property, Barnett said.
City officials have been discussing buying properties in that area, which are near Youngs Creek, for years because of the number of times the area has flooded, but no official plans have ever been made. Earlier this year, Barnett began talking with business owners about a voluntary program, where they would move and the city would buy their property.
The money for the project would come from the redevelopment commission, a city board that is in charge of spending tax dollars collected in the city’s tax-increment financing, or TIF, districts that set aside property taxes paid by certain businesses for infrastructure and economic development projects. Members of the redevelopment commission approved 4-1 setting aside the money for the purchase. Board member BJ Deppe voted no because of his concerns with a cleanup Duke Energy is planning on a piece of the property to remove contamination from a former manufactured gas plant.
Now, the city can move forward with negotiating and finalizing the purchase of the property, Barnett said.
As part of the agreement, Bastin Logan will be required to choose a new location within city limits. And the company also will be eligible for tax breaks, just like any other business relocating in the city, Barnett said.
Barnett plans to continue talking with other area business owners about any interest they have in relocating, he said.