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Redevelopment of former motel site draws closer: Franklin group hopes to get final OK by year's end for ex location of Red Carpet Inn

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The site of a former Franklin motel is close to being sold and redeveloped by a taxpayer-funded organization.

The Franklin Development Corp. made an offer of $175,000 to buy the land near Interstate 65 and State Road 44, where the former Red Carpet Inn was demolished earlier this year. The property is part of a bankruptcy case, but the court has approved a sale, said Craig Wells, president and chief executive officer of the Franklin Development Corp.

Another approval is needed through the court, but the city-formed organization hopes to be able to finalize the sale by the end of the year, Wells said.

The next step would be to redevelop the eastside Franklin property, he said.

The city paid to demolish the former motel earlier this year, after deeming it unsafe when parts of the building were crumbling and in danger of collapsing. The Franklin Development Corp. plans to reimburse the city $80,000 for the demolition, in addition to the purchase of the property, Wells said.

Wells’ goal is to make the property an attractive entrance into the city, because that is one of the first things motorists see when getting off I-65 at the Franklin exit.

He declined to discuss details of any proposals the organization is considering, but said he has had discussions with developers on what could be done with the property.

“We’ve heard some good ideas. It will be a big improvement from what the city has had to endure,” Wells said.

The property first opened as a motel in the 1970s and was ordered to close by the city last year after an inspection found structural problems, mold, deterioration and a concrete balcony in danger of collapsing.

Owners, SBMS Corp., closed the motel and began to knock out windows and remove the furniture from the rooms but did not secure the site. Police repeatedly were called to the motel, and Franklin put a fence around it. City officials got repeated complaints about the property being an eyesore, especially for traffic coming off the interstate, and decided to tear it down earlier this year and require future buyers to pay the city back for that work.

Wells said the Franklin Development Corp. is going to pay the city for the demolition when the sale is finalized.

The organization is still working out details on how a redevelopment project would work. The Franklin Development Corp. was formed by the city in 2008 and given more than $5 million in taxpayer dollars from the city’s tax-increment financing districts, or TIF districts. That money is collected from the property taxes paid by certain companies, and then set aside typically for economic development projects.

A redevelopment project could be a partnership between the organization and a developer, where the Franklin Development Corp. would invest money in the work and then get a return once the property was sold or leased. Or a developer could decide to buy the property from the organization, Wells said.

The property, located at 2180 E. King St., is zoned for mixed use, which could include different types of developments, according to the city planning office.

On the list of possibilities: another hotel, a restaurant, a medical clinic or center, offices and a health spa, according to the planning office.

The property would also have to be developed to meet the city’s gateway standards, including guidelines for the materials used on the front of the building, colors used and including sidewalks, according to the planning office.

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