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Heritage Foundation pushes to buy Franklins Old, Old Jail

The Heritage Foundation is making a play to buy the city of Franklin’s Old, Old Jail located at 112 Bridge Street, formerly owned by Williamson County.

The Franklin-based, historic preservation organization is currently housed in the Post Office Building at Five Points, which the city recently leased to FirstBank. The 88-year-old building will undergo extensive repairs and bank-specific renovations. The terms of the lease mandate that FirstBank allow its current tenants – a contractor for the U.S. Postal Service and the Heritage Foundation – to be allowed to stay in its current location. The postal contractor is expected to stay. However, as negotiations between the bank and the city escalated last fall, the Heritage Foundation indicated that it would prefer to find a new location for its offices.

“We would love to relocate,” Mary Pearce, executive director of the Heritage Foundation, said at the BOMA work session Nov. 27, 2012. “And [FirstBank] would love to partner with us to relocate.”

In a letter dated Feb. 8, an attorney representing the Heritage Foundation suggested that the property’s value might be less than $25,000, therefore eligible to forego the competitive bid process that generally accompanies potential transfers of public property.

“It is unclear whether the property has a value of more than $25,000, given the fact that much of the site is in the Flood Fringe Overlay and flood plain, development of the property would potentially be more expensive due to the requirements of the Historic Overlay District, and that any reuse of the current improvements on the property would require extensive biological remediation and restoration before any use,” J. Bryan Echols, wrote to the city on letterhead for the Nashville-based law firm Dickinson Wright, PLCC. “We believe that BOMA could ‘reasonably determine’ that there exist ‘other unique circumstances’ that cause the bid procedure to be impracticable.”

In the letter, Echols states that the building is in an “advanced state of disrepair.” 

The vacant building on the property sits within 100 feet of the Harpeth River. The building contains lead paint and contains asbestos, and the flood of 2010 brought about mold damage.

“The Heritage Foundation is willing, and eager, to undertake fundraising, renovation and occupancy of the Old, Old Jail,” Echols wrote.

He said that if the 46-year-old organization can purchase the property, it will make the repairs and remediation necessary to satisfy building codes and historic requirements necessary for the end product to be “a project greatly benefiting the community.”

“[Otherwise] we might not be able to be in downtown Franklin,” Cyril Stewart, president of the Heritage Foundation, told BOMA at its Feb. 26 work session. “If we could get that property, we might not have to leave downtown Franklin.”

Echols said the Heritage Foundation would seek LEED certification, which recognizes commercial structures that incorporate varying degrees of environmentally sound practices into its infrastructure.

Posted on: 2/27/2013


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