With plywood and plastic wrap covering the front of his office, a Franklin insurance agent has had to close up early some days because his shop gets too uncomfortably hot.
Mike Lock hasn’t been wasting electricity running his air conditioner at Shelter Insurance since the temporary walls don’t hold out the warm summer air. The walls also don’t block the street noise of ambulances or semis, which can be distracting if he’s on the phone with a client.
But Lock knows the two months of distractions and discomfort for him and seven other downtown Franklin businesses will soon be coming to an end.
Within the next two weeks, workers are supposed to finish sealing around the new large windows and install a new front door, then they can finally take down the temporary walls at Lock’s office. The rest of the projects running along Monroe and Jefferson streets should be completed by early July.
Construction on eight downtown Franklin façades has been steady since contractor Terstep Inc. took over in March, city officials said. Franklin fired the first contractor hired for the job after workers weren’t showing up on a regular basis and the project stalled. The project cost about $650,000 total, which was paid for by a $250,000 state grant, local tax dollars and matching funds provided by business owners.
Terstep workers have been in town nearly every day, rotating among the businesses, including Sharp Graphics, Cherry Leaf Properties, Eggers Woods law firm, Shelter Insurance and the former Don and Dona’s restaurant, business owners said.
The work has moved a little slower than anticipated because the contractor has been delayed in getting windows that need to be installed, Lock and Sharp Graphics general manager Chris Lantz said.
Some of the storefronts, such as Shelter Insurance, are nearly complete and could be done in the next week or two, Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness.
The temporary walls should be coming down soon, and all of the projects could be done around July 4, city engineer Travis Underhill said.
“Painting and finish work will be completed over the next couple weeks. This will really take shape in the next two weeks,” Underhill said.
Small inconveniences have come up during construction, but overall businesses said they’ve been pleased with the progress and how their storefronts are looking.
In Sharp Graphics, keeping cool air inside the shop is a struggle, and temporary walls weren’t keeping out the rain before the contractor put up additional plastic wrap, Lantz said.
Workers have put up the new drywall and built frames for the windows but have been waiting for weeks for the windows to arrive. The new storefront with big windows will open up the store to passers-by on Monroe Street, but in the meantime the wooden walls aren’t inviting, Lantz said.
“There have been some customers who have been confused about whether we’re still open,” Lantz said.
Technical problems have come up during construction and altered the scope of the renovation, Lock said.
Builders uncovered a load-bearing steel beam at Cherry Leaf Properties two doors down, which caused them to nix plans for some additional smaller windows at his building that would have been up near the ceiling.
In the overall renovation, losing the extra windows isn’t a major change, but it’s not what the original design for his new storefront looked like, he said.
Lock is still satisfied with the new storefront he’ll be getting, but the blips and inconveniences along the way have been frustrating, he said.
“At the end, I still like it, and it looks good. But it’s not what we were shown,” Lock said.