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Plans focus on new housing

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A former business owner plans to build houses on land on the east side of Franklin that once was planned as the site of a new high school.

John Grimmer purchased about 78 acres southeast of Eastview Drive and Upper Shelbyville Road, which is across the street from Needham Elementary School. The school district had owned the land since 1997 and at one point considered building a new high school in the area.

Plans for the high school fell through largely because residents were skeptical about putting a new high school on the east side of the city, which they thought would cause traffic problems and be too far away from the center of the school district. But Grimmer, the former owner of Hurricane Compressors and Grimmer Schmidt Compressors, which eventually was sold to Atlas Copco, thinks the location just west of Interstate 65 is the perfect spot for about 100 new houses.

Grimmer would market between 10 and 20 of the homes to older Franklin residents looking for homes that could be constructed with wider hallways and doorways, walk-in showers and other features ideal for people with mobility problems. The rest of the homes would be marketed to new residents, including families who would need to split their time between Indianapolis and Columbus.

City officials could market the homes to businesses considering setting up operations in Franklin, Grimmer said.

“If we develop this land as I foresee, the city will have a big talking point to show potential companies that are interested in locating in this part of Indiana. They’ll be able to show them this area that will be a nice spot for their employees or their middle, top management,” Grimmer said.

Grimmer thought about purchasing the land for houses every time he drove by. When the housing market began showing signs of improvement, he decided it was time to start the project. Franklin sold Grimmer the land for about $1.6 million, and that money will be set aside in school funds for any land or other major purchases the school district needs to make in the future, executive director of finance Jeff Mercer has said.

Grimmer is applying for permits for the project, and construction can’t begin until after a farmer who has corn planted in a nearby field is able to finish harvesting. After that, Grimmer said, he hopes to begin laying streets, sewers and utilities.

He’ll then start marketing houses to individuals and to contractors interested in building spec houses or selling homes to buyers themselves, Grimmer said.

“I think it’s something the city will be proud of,” he said.

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