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New uses for Franklin building envisioned


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A new city market, fraternal lodge and restaurant or office space are the latest ideas for a vacant building in downtown Franklin if a city board decides to sell the property.

Three groups submitted proposals for the former G.C. Murphy building, on East Jefferson Street, to the Franklin Redevelopment Commission, which owns the building.

All three groups proposed to buy the building for $1, and two asked for incentives from the city board to help with their planned renovations, which range from $200,000 to $400,000.

 

The commission has prioritized selling the building this year in order to get a new business in the property and start generating tax revenue. The building has been government-owned since 2009, and taxes have not been collected on the large downtown property.

Redevelopment commission members have said they will select a proposal they feel would best use the building.

The city board will review the proposals and make a decision whether to sell the building to one of the groups or reject all proposals and continue looking. This is the second round of proposals reviewed by the board, after two proposals were dropped last year due to financial reasons.

The proposals are:

  • Noblesville-based Yeager Properties proposed turning the first floor of the building into 27 small, low-rent office suites that would be marketed to small businesses.
  • The Fraternal Order of Elks Lodge 1818 would turn the building into a new lodge and partner with Aunt Judy’s Country Kitchen to bring the restaurant to the heart of downtown.
  • Franklin residents Tom and Amy Grimmer plan to turn the building into a city market, duckpin bowling alley in the basement and event space on the upper floor.

Yeager Properties proposes turning the first floor into office suites, with shared conference room space and other amenities. The offices would be about 200 square feet, with rents between $405 and $475 per month.

The offices are targeted to small businesses and professionals, such as lawyers or real estate agents, said Scott Baldwin, vice president of development for Yeager Properties.

The company has an office building in Greenwood, at 3209 W. Smith Valley Road, and suites in Fishers, Carmel, Noblesville and Plainfield.

Baldwin said he thinks Franklin could fill 27 suites, and most buildings owned by the company are fully occupied.

Yeager Properties does not have plans to develop the other two floors. Baldwin said the basement could continue to be used for community events, while the top floor eventually might be home to a partnership program with Franklin College that would help support business start-ups. The company also could construct more offices in the future, if needed.

The company proposed purchasing the building for $1 and would invest $200,000 into the renovation. Yeager Properties asked for $400,000 from the redevelopment commission to assist with renovation costs and also is seeking $200,000 in a facade grant from the Franklin Development Corp., a nonprofit agency created by the city, which has promised money to help with the building’s facade.

The Franklin Elks lodge is seeking less money from the redevelopment commission but still requested about $200,000 in tax dollars.

The Elks have about $250,000 in a building fund but also would request assistance for the facade work, the cost to add sprinklers and reimbursement for building permits.

Elks leader Bob Swinehamer, who is also a member of Franklin’s Board of Works, didn’t have a specific figure for the incentives but said he expected the Elks would provide 55 percent of the money and would ask for the rest in tax-funded incentives.

Franklin Elks would turn the building into a new lodge and would move from the current location on North Water Street. Aunt Judy’s Country Kitchen would be located in the west side of the main floor and pay rent to the Elks, while the Elks would have meeting space on the east side of the building.

The second floor would be used as an event space for use by the Elks, catered events by Aunt Judy’s or rented out to the public. The basement would be turned into offices, meeting rooms and storage shared by both the Elks and the restaurant.

The Grimmers also would purchase the building for $1 but asked for no additional incentives from the city board.

The couple would seek facade money from the Franklin Development Corp. for exterior upgrades.

The Grimmers, who own Bird on a Wire boutique in Franklin, submitted a proposal to make the main floor a city market, including a bakery, produce shop and possible meat market.

The second floor would be turned into an event space or possibly house Amy Grimmer’s business, Bird on a Wire.

The basement would become a duckpin bowling alley or other activity space.

Members of the city board will consider the proposals next month.

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