Plans to renovate a downtown Franklin building into a cocktail bar with condominiums upstairs stalled and are now being dropped.
The Franklin Development Corp. is negotiating an agreement that would release developer Indreno from the project to renovate the former Padgett building, at 97 E. Monroe St., but will want to find another developer willing to renovate and restore the two-story building.
Indreno originally proposed turning the first floor into a cocktail bar and two storefronts for small shops, renovating the second floor into condominiums and restoring the historic look on the exterior. A contractor completed demolition work inside the building about a year ago, but the project stalled when the developer had issues getting building permits from the state for the mixed-use building.
Construction never started, Indreno representative Jake Griffin said, and now the company is abandoning the project.
The development agency promised up to $775,000 in tax funds — a $500,000 loan and $275,000 grant — to help the developer pay for the project. Since October 2012, when the project was approved, the organization has paid out $216,547 from the loan. That money paid for the work that has been done to the inside of the building and will benefit a new developer with a new project, board president John Ditmars said.
The building is highly visible and across the street from Franklin’s city hall, which makes it a priority project, board member John Wales said.
The development corporation wants to finish negotiations with Indreno as soon as possible and begin searching for someone else to redevelop the building, Ditmars said. The agency is not interested in buying and managing the building but would be willing to offer incentives to help a developer, he said. Two or three people have asked about the property, but Ditmars expects to get more calls once Indreno is released.
Ditmars said, “This is still a great property to develop. The endgame hasn’t changed. This project makes sense.”
Indreno had completed historic restorations on homes in Marion County before committing to the Franklin project. The project stalled when the state asked for more information before releasing building permits, since the building would have both retail shops and residences. The developer was unable to resolve those issues with the state, Griffin said.
Wales said a new developer won’t have to follow Indreno’s original vision of a cocktail bar and condos. Developers could present new ideas, and the board would consider if that project is the right fit for downtown, he said.
The developer was buying the building on contract, so the Franklin Development Corp. had delivered a draft agreement to the developer and building owner to release Indreno, Ditmars said. The agency will direct new developers to the building owner and offer financial assistance.
The organization wants a new developer to work directly with the property owners to work out a new deal, Ditmars said. The Franklin Development Corp. wouldn’t purchase the building and lease it because the agency does not have staff or resources to manage a property, he said.
“I don’t think it would ever be our intent to be landlord,” Wales said.