city hall

It’s been something of a climb, but the City of Franklin took another step toward making a reality of what has become known as The Hill property located along Fifth Avenue North across from Bicentennial Park. 

The property, which was once the site of the city’s Public Works facility, has been deemed by the Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen as a location for affordable or workforce housing.

The aldermen voted 18 months ago to approve a development plan that would create 30 housing units, and at Tuesday’s BOMA work session held via Zoom, they were presented with a resolution that would essentially declare the site as surplus property that can be turned over to whatever entity is selected to develop it.

“We’ve been kicking this can down the road for a really long time,” Alderman at Large Brandy Blanton said during the discussion. “We’ve not done anything like this before, but it’s a project we need to move forward because there’s so much promise to actually produce something that’s going to put a small dent in a problem (affordable housing) we’ve had that surveys show is a priority issue. 

“I think we’ve got people that are poised and ready and anxious to be a part of this. I look forward to moving this forward whenever we can make this happen.”

The Hill property is valued at $1.23 million and is held jointly by the city’s general fund (61%) and the water and sewer fund (39%). Franklin’s municipal code states that if the value of a particular city-owned property is over $75,000 it should be sold by sealed bid.

However, if the BOMA determines a purpose for the property with public benefit — in this case, affordable housing — then it may, by resolution, state the public purpose for the property and establish a public process by which a new owner is selected to implement that public purpose.

Board members, for the most part, are eager to see this proceed. 

“We’ve been working through this for several months,” Alderman at Large Pearl Bransford said. “It was very positive from the board 18 months ago when we were looking at this property as a vision for the city to put affordable and workforce housing there, and I think that was a great coming-together of this board and community. I would like to see us continue to move forward in the purpose of this property.”

In a nutshell, here is the public process by which a new owner or owners will be chosen to successfully implement the declared public purpose of the property:  

  1. The City Administrator, or appropriate designee, shall publicly solicit Letters of Interest from interested parties who indicate they are willing and able to begin construction of the project on the property within two (2) years of the execution of a quitclaim deed by the City, and in adherence with the purposes, terms, and limitations established by this Resolution. 
  2. The solicitation of Letters of Interest shall provide at least thirty (30) days notice to provide a response to the City. 
  3. The solicitation of Letters of Interest shall be public and shall be accomplished (a) by publication in a newspaper of general circulation twice, and (b) by City staff directly contacting known or potential interested parties of which the City is aware. 
  4. Once the Letters of Interest have been received, they shall be presented to the BOMA with a staff recommendation as to the choice of candidate, for the purpose of the BOMA selecting the project and new owner of the property. 
  5. Following the BOMA’s selection, a quitclaim deed transferring the property as described above shall be presented to the BOMA for consideration, with deed restrictions and terms.

Click here to get more background and read more details on the resolution.