Franklin Housing Redevelopment Project Supports Economic Development
Downtown Franklin is taking on a new look as historic and/or underutilized homes are rehabilitated and turned into desirable properties. Revolving loans and grants are being used for the rehabilitation and renovation of historic and/or underutilized homes within the Integrated Economic Development Area of historic Franklin. The effort is being led by the Franklin Development Corp. which supports economic development by incentivizing the revitalization program.
“The FDC has selected challenging homes in the area that would be tough for a private developer to take on and has turned them into attractive properties,” explained Aspire Vice President of Economic Development Amanda Rubadue, CEcD. “Investment by the FDC triggers additional private investment and increased quality of life.”
The program benefits local employers by increasing the quantity and quality of housing offerings in Franklin, Rubadue said, while addressing the need to rehabilitate problem properties. And it benefits the community as a whole by improving the overall quality of life and neighborhood pride.
“FDC’s investment in these properties expands its positive impact into the different areas of the community,” Rubadue said. “These rehabbed homes add quality, attainable housing to the city’s inventory, and they increase neighborhood pride.”
Franklin Director of Community Development Krista Linke concurred. “This is an investment in the community,” she explained “We want to provide safe places for people to live as we revitalize neighborhoods. If we fix that first house, others will follow. It’s been a great program – we love it when we can help people.” Linke added that the goal of the FDC is to “take the worst property on a block and make it the best.”
The focus of the program is to help residents make improvements to their properties in situations where financing is not always available. “In the past, property improvements were made with a ‘band-aid’ approach. We want to make an impact on these residents and on the community,” Linke explained. She added, “We want to help improve neighborhoods. If a home isn’t maintained, it can have an effect on the entire area.”
The housing rehabilitation program started around 2010, Linke recalled, “and at that time not much was being done downtown in terms of housing. Residents had trouble getting financing to upgrade their homes. FDC provided the catalyst to encourage many homeowners to make upgrades. Once a few people took advantage of our financing program, it made it easier to show examples of how the program works. Housing values increased, which showed that it was smart to make that investment.”
Linke explained that all residential projects must be made in the FDC’s designated area where its financing programs are available. “Some residents receive a 100% grant, while other may receive a 50% grant and a 50% loan.”
What has been the impact of the program? “For a lot of people, participating in the FDC program allows them to stay in their homes,” Linke responded. “We do a lot of work for the elderly and for single people. This allows them to live in their homes longer and enjoy greater energy efficiency.” She added that 90-95 homes have been rehabilitated under the program. “The biggest impact is made where there are several homes in the program near each other. One neighbor tells another, which helps get the word out, so there’s a concentrated effect.”
The FDC has launched a new website that explains its rehabilitation program along with before and after photos of their projects.
“Embracing and pursuing opportunities for enhanced livability and quality of place is one of the goals of Aspire’s 5-year economic development strategy,” said Aspire President and CEO Christian Maslowski. “Franklin’s rehabilitation efforts help attract new companies and new workers to Johnson County. We applaud their efforts in taking this initiative.”