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2 firms consider shell building

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Two manufacturing companies want to move into a Franklin building taxpayers helped pay for, and a deal with one could be reached as soon as next month.

The two companies are negotiating with the owner to lease or buy the industrial building on Graham Road.

Both interested companies want to use all 51,000 square feet of the building, but neither wants to say yet who they are or what they do, according to Cheryl Morphew, Johnson County Development Corp. president and chief executive officer.

Mayor Joe McGuinness said both businesses have talked about buying or leasing the facility. He hopes the deal will go through in July, and then interior renovations will happen after that, he said.

The city redevelopment commission provided about $10,000 in tax dollars for the developer’s legal fees during construction.

The board also committed to paying for all the building’s annual maintenance costs, property taxes, insurance, utilities and mortgage interest payments, estimated to be about $100,000 for 2014.

The board also agreed to pay $450,000 for the land if the site is not sold before September 2015.

Property owner Runnebohm Construction spent $1.83 million to construct the shell building at 1725 N. Graham Road. The building was constructed with three loading docks and an overhead garage door but has only gravel for floors and no interior walls. The goal was to have a facility that can be adapted easily for different uses.

Construction of the building was completed last fall, and it has been empty since then. But interest has been steady, including at least five showings in the past two months, Morphew said.

Each of the companies negotiating for the facility is interested enough in locating in Franklin that both might open in the city, regardless of which one gets the building, McGuinness said.

“I think they’re both fairly serious about Franklin,” he said.

McGuinness said the city isn’t involved in the negotiations with the companies that want to use the building, beyond encouraging them to come to Franklin and possibly offering tax breaks or other incentives later.

“I’m a pretty competitive person,” he said, “and I want to make sure we’re always putting our best foot forward.”

Morphew said businesses, such as the two looking at the shell building, want existing buildings they can adapt for their specific uses and that have space for expanding.

“That’s still the sweet spot request,” she said.

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