NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – Designers of a potential new landmark in the heart of Williamson County remain confident they’ll get the job done, despite backlash from some of their immediate neighbors.
Since purchasing the former O’More School of Design in 2019, the nonprofit preservation group Heritage Foundation intends to turn the property into an art museum and garden, among other things. The group also offered to add event space to the property, which for nearly two years was protested by dozens of neighboring Franklin property owners.
“Once you start commercial ventures in the middle of a historic residential property, we’ve lost Franklin as we know it,” said Chuck Rose, who opposes Franklin Grove event space. “This is the place of the event. No event location and we are ok with the rest of the project.
In February, the city’s historic planning commission voted not to recommend that the city accept the project’s proposed rezoning for event space. The Heritage Foundation is now telling News4 that it will buy downtown’s historic McConnell House, which could serve as an event space for the Franklin Grove project.
“This is the largest preservation project in the history of the Heritage Foundation,” said President and CEO Bari Beasley. “And one of the critical revenue streams is having third party gatherings and now we have more properties in our portfolio.”
Neighbors of the Franklin Grove property fear that rezoning the property will threaten the charm of downtown Franklin, adding noise and traffic to an already booming town.
“I’ve lived in ten states, I’ve seen other states do this. Once you start changing the zoning, you change the charm, the character,” Rose said.
Still, Beasley insists the Heritage Foundation will find a way to meet in the middle and carry out the multi-million dollar preservation project whether the event space is on Franklin Grove property or not.
“There’s still so much excitement about Franklin Grove. I am as excited today as I was the day we were able to acquire this property,” Beasley said. “I think it’s really safe to say that Franklin Grove is going to happen.”
To learn more about the Franklin Grove Project, visit https://williamsonheritage.org/preservation/our-projects/
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