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Franklin building originally slated for demolition gets face lift

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The demolition of a water-damaged, mold-infested building in Franklin has been put on hold while a new owner works on repairs.

City officials deemed the former Angel Care building at 1107 N. Main St., which has been vacant for at least five years, unsafe and issued an

order to demolish or repair the building in June.

The city planned to tear down the building if no renovations had been made by early this year. Megan Smither, a Whiteland resident and deputy prosecutor, bought the building in January and has started cleaning it out. In the past month, Smither has removed enough mold-covered drywall and old nursing home equipment to fill two dumpsters, she said.

This property is the first Smither has bought to redevelop, and she isn’t sure yet what she wants to turn the building into.

But as long as she continues to make progress renovating the building, the city will not tear it down, Franklin Planning Department code enforcement officer Rhoni Oliver said.

Oliver said the building is still considered unsafe by the city, because its structure has not yet been repaired, and she will continue to monitor Smither’s progress until the city can deem the building safe again.

“It’s still in the hearing process. It won’t come out until the city is convinced that it is going to be completed,” Oliver said.

Smither said she doesn’t have a timeline for when the building will be fully repaired and renovated and doesn’t know what the building will be. She wants to lease the building to a business when work is finished, she said.

“We don’t want the building to be empty. Once we get it to a point where we can make a decision, we’ll look at the options then and see what the demand is for,” Smither said.

The property is already zoned for commercial use and could be used as a day care center, a medical center, a dry cleaner, a restaurant or a small scale retail shop, associate city planner Kevin Tolloty said.

Smither can also put apartments on the second floor of the building, but to make the building all apartments would require approvals from the city to rezone the property for residential use, Tolloty said.

Local developer Dennis Anderson had wanted to turn the building into apartments and approached the city’s zoning board to get the property rezoned, but Smither bought the building.

The city previously told Anderson the property did not have enough parking spaces for the number of apartments he wanted to build and he would have to create more parking or fewer apartments.

The property currently has 12 parking spaces, and the lack of parking will be an issue the city will want to address no matter how the building will be used in the future, Tolloty said.

Smither has not yet applied for any permits to remodel the property, and wants to get the building cleaned up before she decides what to do with it.

Smither’s father, Bobby Smither, is helping her with the building. The two plan to renovate the building and make it look similar to other buildings in the area. The building will get a new roof this spring, Smither said.

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