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Town of Franklin seeking public input on future of Whitmire Property 

Last updated on February 23, 2023

December 2024 will mark 20 years since the town of Franklin purchased the Whitmire Property in downtown Franklin. The 12.71 acre plot is located at the gateway to downtown Franklin and has been a constant discussion amongst elected officials for two decades. In August of last year, the town of Franklin voted 4-1 to use the property for recreation and possibly mixed-use housing and now the town is seeking input from residents on what exactly that will look like. 

The Town of Franklin has partnered with McGill Associates to develop a recreation plan for the Whitmire Property.  The Town is seeking input from citizens related to recreational priorities in that area.  The survey is available online and only takes a few minutes to complete.  To access the survey online, please visit:  Copies of the survey are also available at Town Hall.    The survey will close on February 24, 2023.  

Public meetings will be held on Thursday, February 23 at various locations throughout Town and representatives from McGill Associates and the Town will be present to answer questions.   

The town originally purchased the property with the intention of housing the town hall, police department, and public works. At that time, the town was in need of a town hall and was considering the old Lowe’s building when they noticed the Whitmire Property. After deciding it would be a perfect fit for a combination of these three town departments to be located on the property, the town paid $1.5 million outright for the purchase.

At that time, the Scottish Tartan Museum was located upstairs and the police department was located downstairs in the current town hall. According to Council member Joe Collins, there was already friction between the museum and the town, so the museum was relocated across the street at its current location, and a new facility was built for the police department freeing up the current town hall.

Although the original intention for the property changed, Collins said he thought the purchase of the property was still a good investment for the town. The town had a nice piece of property with everything needed – water, sewer, natural gas, close proximity to downtown, and good access. He also stated the town made the right decision to keep the town hall downtown.

As leadership within the town of Franklin has changed — so has the discussion surrounding the Whitmire Property and its future. In 2018, the town paid $14,000 to WR-Martin Management Consulting to assess the Whitmire Property to identify potential future uses of the property. The consulting firm determined the top three potential uses – passive recreation cultural use, land banking and mixed-use development of housing and commercial development by ranking them based on the number of positive community factors. 

Over the last few years, the Whitmire Property did get its first actual usage since it was purchased in 2004. The land was cleared, old buildings demolished, and the town granted usage of the property to the public for a disc golf course. The property was also identified as being the ideal location for the town’s skatepark, and dirt was even delivered to the property to begin that process… before issues within the company that initiated the work brought the skatepark project to a halt. 

In the 2018 study using the property as a passive recreation cultural area received the most positive community factors. In this option, a recreational area could be developed on the site which could include picnic areas, parking, restroom facilities, and a connection to the Greenway trail. The passive park could incorporate an amphitheater with stadium seating or the construction of a covered picnic shelter pavilion, walking trails, dog park, and other recreation uses. A passive recreation area could become a community destination, linking the downtown area, the Little Tennessee River Greenway, the river, biking, and pedestrian routes, and culture assets.

With the new survey going live this week, the town hopes to collect further input to help drive the direction of development for the property. 

The drop-in public meetings scheduled for February 23 will be held at The Robert C. Carpenter Community Building on the Georgia Rd from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., in downtown Franklin inside Town Hall from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. and lastly at the Macon County Public Library from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.  

All ages are encouraged to participate. For more information, please contact the Town of Franklin at 828-524-2516. 

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