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Vacant building’s brick façade crumbling; sidewalk closed

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Pieces of brick appear to be falling from a vacant building in downtown Franklin, prompting the city to close a nearby sidewalk.

The pieces of brick, which are about the size of rocks, have come down in front of the Jarve Alexander building, at 97 E. Monroe St. Officials from Franklin’s planning department blocked the sidewalk in front of the building on Monday.

City officials said they don’t know why the brick pieces started falling.

Senior planner Joanna Myers and building official David Parsley said they didn’t know if there was any damage to the building or if the building’s owners, Robert Ellett and Gordon Brown, had any renovations planned.

The building has been vacant for the past year-and-a-half, when Padgett’s Signs and Design moved out in 2013. Since then the Franklin Development Corp., a city-funded organization, has been trying to find new occupants for the building, which it considers a high-priority project because it’s across the street from city hall.

But no projects are slated for the building.

Developer Indreno had proposed turning the property into a cocktail bar with upstairs condominiums. Demolition work inside the building was completed, but the project stopped after the developer had problems getting permits from the state for the dual purposes of the building.

In the spring, the Franklin Development Corp. heard pitches from two other developers interested in converting the building into office space.

Envoy Inc. of Indianapolis proposed spending $2.2 million to create 26 small offices and room for 30 businesses that could share the building’s space.

The organization is considering Envoy’s proposal but also is looking for new options to fund operations and projects after most of the money committed by the city was spent.

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