After over six years of scouting and 42 property inquiries, The Refuge Center for Counseling finally closed on a new parcel of land on which to build a new facility.
Refuge Center administrators, contractors and other stakeholders all gathered at the wooded property on Long Lane Monday afternoon to at long last celebrate the end of the search and the beginning of building the project.
Contractor Jason Sain said they faced every problem in the book when trying to procure property for a new facility — issues with utilities, zoning, price, topography and more. Though this new land came with a few complications, after so many years of looking, The Refuge Center was up for the task.
Originally zoned in the county as residential, the land had to be procured by the city of Franklin and rezoned as general office, according to executive director and cofounder of The Refuge Center Amy Alexander.
“We found this one maybe about 15 months ago, and we spent 11 months working the city’s process to have it annexed and rezoned,” she said while standing at the hay-covered front of the property that will soon become a parking lot.
The Refuge Center is a Christian faith-based counseling facility focused on providing affordable services to anyone in need.
Alexander explained one of the main goals with the new facility will be to incorporate the therapeutic qualities of nature into the project. It will also be 50% larger than the current facility.
Architect JC Elder explained the building plans include walking trails and pavilions outdoors to enhance the counseling indoors and to preserve the natural features of the land.
“A lot of it has to do with conservation of the existing vegetation on the site,” he said. “We’re actually building the building into the hillside so that we’re not just coming and scraping everything off and starting new with a flat site, but we’re actually trying to use the topography of the site. … It’s not only about just the building itself. It’s about the whole experience of the site.”
He added that, while some vegetation will be cleared away to make room for the new center, over half the existing tree coverage will be conserved.
Sain emphasized that throughout the construction process, they will seek to be considerate of those around them, especially as many of the surrounding properties are residential areas.
“During construction, our job is just to make sure that the experience that The Refuge provides — that we provide that to the community and to the neighbors, so keeping the streets clean, keeping an organized and safe project so we’re a good neighbor,” he said.
The construction of the new Refuge Center is set to finish in the third quarter of 2020. For more information about The Refuge Center for Counseling, visit refugecenter.org.