FRANKLIN, Tenn. - First United Methodist Church has planned to move from the downtown Franklin location it has occupied for more than 130 years, opening up a large piece of property for redevelopment.
The church has sat on nearly two-and-half acres of land and a group of local developers has been in the process of purchasing the property.
"It's a rare opportunity that you can get this size property, right in downtown Franklin," said Steve Bacon, one of the developers who will purchase the land.
The buildings that currently stand on the property will remain and will be re-purposed. A church and school have been expected to sign a lease for the large building that currently houses classrooms, a gym, and kitchen.
The older building on 5th Avenue will be the only structure where the developers will make significant changes.
"Probably will take four, five months to renovate, so we should be ready for occupancy sometime around the Spring of next year," Bacon explained.
A sprinkler system will be added to the structure, and it will be brought up to code. The developers have hoped to lease the first floor to a restaurant. They will market the second floor as office space.
Architects have currently been working on final renderings for the facade of the building. It will be made to look similar to the other historic buildings in downtown Franklin.
The historic Kennedy House will remain intact and will most likely house offices.
The developers will not take control of the property until closing, which has been expected to happen during the first week of December.
Margaret Martin, the Alderman for downtown Franklin, has welcomed the redevelopment, as long as the old blends with the new.
"We didn't want anything that would be out of character," Martin explained.
The church has sat on a very historic corner in Franklin, and it has been located close to where downtown transitions into a residential neighborhood.
"Whatever it is needs to be very aware of the fragility of the city, and that particular corner, because it's so large, it's so visible, and we certainly don't want anything that is going to change the character of our downtown," Martin said.
The developers, all of whom live in downtown Franklin, said they have been very conscious of the responsibility that comes with the property, and plan to honor the history of the city.
First United Methodist Church was leaving the downtown for a sprawling new campus off of Mack Hatcher Parkway. The church will continue to use it's historic sanctuary located across 5th Avenue from the property that will be sold.