Community gives input on housing in Franklin
By Kerri Bartlett, Assistant Editor
Lack of housing options for seniors and young “starter” families, and concerns about infrastructure and high density in Cool Springs emerged as top points of discussion at the Franklin Housing Needs Analysis community meeting last night at city hall.
“Start-up families can’t afford to live here,” said Tina Edwards, executive director of GraceWorks nonprofit organization.
“The police and teachers can’t live here. Newlyweds with young children is a number that is decreasing because they just can’t make it work here in Franklin.”
Denver-based BBC Research & Consulting, hired by the city, led a presentation and opened discussion last night as part of the community input portion of a comprehensive Housing Needs Analysis in the works. A little over a dozen residents attended the informal meeting in which a microphone was passed around the conference room for discussion.
Over the span of two days, BBC has held discussions for the purpose of gathering community thoughts and opinions on the issue of needs in Franklin. Representatives from nonprofits, developers, realtors, government officials, business owners, and residents have attended meetings to hear BBC staff presentations and participate in the information collection phase of the study.
At the final open meeting last night, some attendees expressed a desire for more housing options for seniors who wish to downsize.
“We are empty-nesters and would like to downsize but don’t want to move across town,” Diana Levy of Cool Springs said. She attended the meeting with her husband, Phil. “I would like to see more options for single-family homes in my own neighborhood.”
County Commissioner Kathy Danner, District 4, shared her thoughts about growth and density in the Cool Springs area that she represents.
“There is a growing concern from residents especially about rental areas. They are nervous that the [Cool Springs] area will become saturated with rentals.”
Danner explained that she hopes that rentals “don’t overbuild beyond demand.” Danner explained that what could start out as high-end rental property could decrease in value if demand lags and in turn could contribute to a decrease in property values.
Danner also expressed a worry about current infrastructure and its ability to accommodate more growth with new developments such as Ovation taking root, which will bring a 147-acre mixed-use development consisting of commercial/retail property and even the possibility of about 850-residential units to the area.
It was also mentioned by an audience member that “affordability is going away from the place that people have called their neighborhood for years.”
“Homes below $300,000 are getting harder and harder to find. I’m worried that my children can’t live here,” a father said about his young adult children.
Some residents also expressed concern about the condition of Franklin’s aging neighborhoods consisting of lower-priced homes absent from renovation. A long-time male resident cited a trend that when investors purchase the lower priced homes, they are turned into rental property and “not renovated like they should be.”
He posed the question, “What is the city going to do to help those older neighborhoods?”
Some suggestions included converting some properties into Granny flats to make additions for aging parents or turning them into starter homes.
“Instead of talking about more affordable housing, we should be talking about infrastructure,” a male resident added. “That’s what makes housing affordable.”
Many audience members agreed that traffic and roads represented major concerns as Franklin continues to grow.
BBC demographic reports based on the U.S. Census
A few statistics that BBC staff shared is that the population of Franklin has grown about 58 percent in the last 12 years reaching 66,278 by 2012 – a growth rate a higher than the county.
The number of adults 45-64 has increased by about 10,000, or nine percent, in which about half of that population has a disability.
The minority population has grown in the number of Asians and Hispanics living in the city although the number of African Americans has decreased slightly.
About seven percent of families are living in poverty in Franklin, and 12 percent of children live in poverty.
The median family income in Franklin is $63,800 per year. The median home price is $419,600.
Posted on: 1/10/2014