Event venue

Franklin Neighbors Express Traffic Concerns Around Franklin Grove Event Site | Local News

The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County is embarking on one of its “most ambitious” projects to date in downtown Franklin, and some neighbors, while all for preservation, have reservations about certain items which, according to them, will lead to traffic problems.

The Heritage Foundation closed its doors on the former property of O’More College of Design, which retains historical memorabilia dating back to the early 1800s, to early 2019 and has since been working on a site plan for the Franklin Grove Estate & Renowned Gardens. Just recently, in June, the Heritage Foundation opened one of its first campus features, in partnership with Williamson, Inc .: the Franklin Innovation Center inside the Calvin LeHew Mansion.

The organization has planned several elements for the nearly 5.2-acre parcel – the relocation and preservation of the historic Lee-Buckner School in Spring Hill, an art museum inside the Winstead House, a public programming inside the summer house, gardens throughout the property and more.

“I see this as the ultimate project. This is the most ambitious project the foundation has ever undertaken, and I have no doubts that it will also be the best project, ”said Cyril Stewart, the project’s lead architect.

The feature that most worries local residents is an 8,800 square foot veranda intended for use as an event venue.

Many Franklin residents, especially neighbors of the Franklin Grove property, gathered at a neighborhood meeting at Franklin City Hall Thursday to learn more about the project and share their thoughts. The first to speak was Walt Green, a leader of a group called Concerned Neighbors of Franklin Grove.

“I will say very clearly that the neighborhood group is not anti-development. It’s not anti-growth, anti-Franklin-Grove, anti-Heritage-Foundation, ”Green said. “We are anti-event. “

By far, the majority of neighbors who expressed concerns about the project did not want the project to come to a complete halt; they shared their support for the idea of ​​the “estate and gardens” and asked the Heritage Foundation to reconsider the conservatory as it is currently planned.

According to the proposed plan, the conservatory would have room for around 192 table seats, but some residents feared the building could accommodate events for more than 400 guests. The plan includes approximately 90 on-site parking spaces and calls for the foundation to be able to shuttle between campus and the Old parking lot, Old Jail, which has 54 additional spaces.

Stewart told the Herald that capacity for events that would be held at the conservatory would be limited by parking availability.

The infrastructure around campus is another area of ​​concern for residents, as some have noted that with the opening of the main entrance on Lewisburg Pike about a dozen car lengths from the intersection of Lewisburg and South Margin Street, major events could cause traffic jams, noise pollution and an increased risk of car accidents.

Stewart said the foundation’s plan contains $ 250,000 to “fix the intersection” according to his engineers’ recommendations. The team is also continuing a traffic study for the project, taking into account how the traffic flow could be affected by the pandemic. Stewart expressed confidence that if the plan doesn’t work, the city won’t approve it. Some neighbors weren’t so sure.

“We are talking about what the future traffic problems will be. Traffic today is not running downtown, ”said Franklin resident Bob Ravener.

To the applause of many in attendance, Franklin Ward 4 Alderman Margaret Martin expressed her opinion that preserving the property is important, but she believes that the commercial element of an event venue is not is not necessary at the heart of the project.

“You don’t need the place to preserve and protect this property, she said. “You might need the place to make money. … So, it’s a question of wanting to preserve it, or do you want to make it a business in our neighborhood?

As the organization plans to run the property in part with membership revenue, such as Cheekwood Estate & Gardens in Nashville, Heritage Foundation CEO Bari Beasley said the conservatory is a critical part of the project’s feasibility. , saying that creating “something wonderful for the community” has always been at the center of our concerns.

“We continue to listen to comments from neighbors, and we are going through a whole process here,” she said. “In order to be able to provide the community with public gardens and an art museum and an opportunity to be educated in an African American school,… we must also be able to have a sustainable model. Thus, being able to organize events in a beautiful veranda is part of the overall vision of this property.

The project is still in its early stages. While the team has come up with a plan, there are still a lot of moving parts as the foundation begins to move forward with the approval process, so the details could change. The city expects the project to go through the Historic Zoning Commission, the Zoning Appeals Board (presumably for a zoning variance determination), the Franklin Municipal Planning Commission and finally the Council of Mayors and aldermen – a process expected to run through April with several opportunities for public comment.

To learn more about the project, visit www.WilliamsonHeritage.org/FranklinGrove.

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