After sitting empty for over a year, fences went up around the Franklin Plaza on Columbia Avenue and West Fowlkes Street.
H. G. Hill Realty Company, which owns the former strip mall, reported that it recently submitted an application for a permit for the razing of the unoccupied structures to the Franklin Building and Neighborhood Services Department and has begun asbestos removal in the buildings.
“We are pleased to take this initial step as we determine the best and right path forward for this important property,” said Jimmy Granbery, the chair and CEO of H.G. Hill Realty Company. “We look forward to working with city officials, the historic preservation community, and our Franklin neighbors as we explore development plans.”
The shopping center emptied slowly over the past six years. In 2015, AutoZone made the first exit as it moved across the street to a lot it now owns, and Piggly Wiggly was the first in the strip to permanently close its doors that same year. Shiki, a Japanese restaurant, made a quiet exit as it closed its doors in early 2019, and soon the only remaining business was the local nonprofit Our Thrift Store.
By 2020, Our Thrift Store owner Dave Krikac had been looking for new property for the store for a couple years and came up empty. H. G. Hill had given the store a few lease extensions as Krikac searched, but the store eventually closed in June last year.
H. G. Hill anticipates the structures will be demolished in November.