April 9, 2008

Old Post office will receive upgrades

Franklin plans for newest old buildings
In first step since land swap, city to rehab Five Points Post Office
The Tennessean April 9, 2008

FRANKLIN — Years after a land swap with the county, Franklin will pay $2.5 million to take ownership of several aging downtown properties, including the Five Points Post Office.
The next question remains how much more will be spent on improving those properties — and how much the county will spend to create a new passive park on the 200 acres near Leiper's Fork it received in trade.
There's been no discussion from either camp about what might be ahead.
City leaders traded the wooded land known as the "Springs property" in exchange for the county-owned Five Points Post Office building, two jail buildings on Bridge Street and about 6 acres on Eddy Lane that adjoin Fort Granger, all in or near downtown.
Because the Springs property was formerly owned through the city's Water and Sewer Fund, regulations mandate that city officials must purchase the formerly county-owned properties from that fund before updating those buildings for general, public purposes.
After months of discussion, aldermen agreed in late March to begin making 36 monthly payments of $73,810 tothe fund. City and county officials first discussed the swap back in 2005 and finalized the deal last year.
The $2.5 million price is based on a 2002 appraisal by state Department of Transportation officials of the Springs property, according to interim City Administrator Russ Truell.
Now that Franklin technically owns the downtown properties, city leaders are addressing the conditions of the buildings and renewing leases.
The one with the most pressing need of attention is the 1930s-era post office, arguably one of downtown Franklin's most visible sites. It's home to a private postal operation and the offices of the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County. Archival material is stored in its basement.
"You have to maintain the stuff you own," Franklin Mayor John Schroer said. "The post office is a very viable piece of property in the city of Franklin. It has to be maintained."
Potential repairs run the gamut from minor fixes, like repairing broken toilets, to major overhauls, such as replacing its antiquated heating and cooling system.
"We just gave them a list of things we felt like were in their best interests to fix," Heritage Foundation Executive Director Mary Pearce said.
Attorneys are negotiating lease terms with the post office operation and the foundation.
Rent set at $1,000 In the case of the foundation, a new lease calls for a monthly $1,000 payment to the city. Under its previous lease with the county, the foundation paid $1 a year. The latest discussions have centered on how much the foundation should pay toward the building's utility bill.
Interim City Attorney Shauna Billingsley confirmed that negotiations were ongoing with both tenants and were not finalized.
Despite any changes, keeping a post office downtown remains a must for Pearce.
"As someone who cares about the ongoing vitality of Main Street, I think it's critical," Pearce said. Post office manager Kathy Russell confirmed a new lease for her operation is still being finalized, but did not elaborate. "We are still going to be here," Russell said. "If I had any concerns (about the building's condition), I would discuss it with (the city)."
The last contract between the county and Russell for the space stood at $11,600 annually.
Archives will moveBy year's end, the county archival materials will be removed from the post office basement as crews cull through the records, deciding which to keep and relocate and which to destroy, County Mayor Rogers Anderson said.
Discussions about the future of the former jail buildings on Bridge Street and the land on Eddy Lane are still ongoing.
As for the new county park, Anderson said residents should expect public meetings about how the Springs property might be used, but to expect no work on it this year.

No comments: