Developers are embarking on a $14 million overhaul of a prominent — and out-of-place — building in the heart of historic downtown Franklin.
The project further fuels reinvestment that’s headed for downtown, at a time when a multibillion-dollar construction pipeline in the city’s Cool Springs commercial hub has been (understandably) hogging all the attention, on the east side of Interstate 65.
This rendering depicts the $14 million overhaul planned for the First Tennessee building at 231 Public Square, in downtown Franklin. The figures note how developers want to make a corner of the building taller, to accommodate a rooftop venue.
This rendering depicts the $14 million overhaul planned for the First Tennessee building… more
filings with city of Franklin
On Thursday, First Tennessee Bank said that it’s under contract to sell its building at 231 Public Square to a trio of developers led by Bernie Butler, of Franklin’s D9 Development.
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The ensuing project could attract white-collar offices and two new restaurants to a downtown already teeming with retail. Butler believes his project will set the tone for what he sees as the inevitable redevelopment of City Hall, behind the First Tennessee building. It’s just one block from a proposed $82 million development that would include a boutique hotel, luxury apartments and retail space — remaking a prominent entrance to downtown.
“This is an opportunity to fix this anchor part of the square,” Butler told me. “We have one chance to do things perfectly.”
Butler declined to disclose what price he is paying for the building, along with fellow development partners Crews Investments Properties and Heartland Partners, of Franklin and Brentwood, respectively.
Downtown Franklin consists mostly of buildings from the 1800s and early 1900s. The First Tennessee building was built in 1972.
“This building, architecturally, is the sore thumb in the complexion of this historic part of downtown. If you’ve seen a hundred pictures of downtown, you never see one of this building. There’s a reason,” Butler said. “It never really blended into the historic flavor of downtown, and everybody knows that.”
First Tennessee signed a new, seven-year lease that keeps its bank branch on the ground floor. A restaurant also will occupy part of the ground floor, with private dining in the basement, Butler said.
The second and third floors will be renovated for high-end office space. Combined, the two floors are 25,000 square feet. Butler said he’ll divide that up into smaller spaces, perhaps 2,000 square feet or 4,000 square feet.