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FirstBank to lease Post Office building at Franklins Five Points

Franklin’s Board of Mayor and Alderman unanimously approved a lease that will relinquish control of the Post Office building at Five Points to FirstBank until at least 2033.

“We’re happy with the outcome,” said Britin Boatright, Nashville president for the Tennessee-based bank. “We want [to open the branch] as soon as we can.”

Given the repair work the bank must contractually complete and bank-specific renovations the tenant plans to undertake, Boatright was reluctant to speculate how soon that might be. FirstBank will fund all related work.

In general terms, the 20-year lease transfers to the bank all rights and responsibilities for the property and the building itself except for its basement, which city will retain and continue to use for storage. The agreement includes options for two 10-year renewals. The bank has committed to spend $3.5 million in up-front maintenance, building repairs, and bank-specific upgrades to the 88-year-old structure as part of the agreement. The rent for 8,027 square feet of the 15,740-square-foot building will be $24,000 annually, comparable for what it receives in rent from its current two tenants, a contractor for the U.S. Postal Service and the Heritage Foundation. Although each tenant will be offered the option to remain, the Heritage Foundation indicated it would likely move.

Ward 4 Alderman Margaret Martin, an outspoken critic of the deal, was absent from the Feb. 12 meeting.


The So-Called ‘Contributor’ Ordinance

In an attempt to balance safety with the rights of individuals to sell goods to motorists, BOMA unanimously voted to defer what would have been the final vote on the ordinance to prevent the “sale of wares in the right of way.” The measure would have banned the sale of products by pedestrians to persons in vehicles, a business model widely practiced in the greater Nashville area that includes several busy intersections in Franklin by homeless vendors who sell The Contributor newspaper. Brentwood has a similar law in place that was upheld on appeal late last year.

Supporters say the ordinance is necessary for the safety of motorists and pedestrians alike, and to protect landscaping that they say is sometimes destroyed by the salespersons. Some critics say the bill is an attempt to legislate high-profile homelessness from its city streets under the guise of public safety.

Through its deferral, BOMA asked the city’s legal staff to develop a compromise that allows sales to the passenger side of stopped vehicles located in the curb lane adjacent to the sidewalk.

“We are in favor of sales from the sidewalk to the closest side of the vehicle,” said Tasha A. French Lemley, founding executive director for The Contributor, Inc., based in Nashville.

Lemley said her distribution staff, comprised exclusively by homeless individuals, has sold 2 million copies of the newspaper without a documented safety incident since its founding in 2007.

“I am so encouraged to see the city of Franklin work with The Contributor,” said At-large Alderman Brandy Blanton immediately prior to the vote. Blanton is publisher of Southern Exposure Magazine, which is owned by Derby Jones who also owns the Williamson Herald.

The earliest the board might revisit the issue would be at its March 12 work session and regular meeting, which will likely include a public comment session.

Posted on: 2/13/2013


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