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Franklin considers plan to revitalize city, draw in visitors

FRANKLIN, Ind. (WISH) – If you ever drive Interstate 65, you could soon have more options to stop and grab food, take a break or even stay the night.

Tuesday morning leaders in Franklin will consider a $15 million plan to draw more people into the city. The King Street exit off I-65 doesn’t look very inviting right now. There are liquor stores and a few gas stations, but the area is largely empty and rundown. But the Franklin mayor wants to change that.

Mayor Joe McGuinness wants to build up the area with restaurants, a grocery store and eventually a hotel. His plan also includes new medians, sidewalks, lighting and landscaping. The goal is to get more people to stop and then come back to Franklin.

Currently, drivers might wait to stop until they get to the Greenwood exit a few miles north or the Edinburgh exit a few miles south. The mayor says he’s looking for what he calls the “spring break effect.”

“If I’m traveling with my family and we’re headed south on 65, and we’re looking for a place to stop – whether it’s to take a break, looking for a hotel. If we’re driving from northern Michigan, or if we’re just looking for a place to stop and eat and fill up. Is this interchange one that I’d want to stop and visit?” said McGuinness.

McGuinness is asking the Redevelopment Commission to issue $15 million in TIF bonds to pay for the project. The mayor said property owners won’t see a tax hike to pay for the project, because the funds will be paid back through existing tax revenues from designated areas to pay for projects.

24-Hour New 8 has not heard from anyone vocally against this project. The Redevelopment Commission will consider the plan at 8 a.m. Tuesday. If the project is approved, we could see construction start as early as June.