Funds needed to complete building

Published 8:36 am Friday, July 30, 2010

FRANKLIN—The Downtown Franklin Association is looking for money to complete the restrooms and concession stand at Barrett’s Landing after expensive flood insurance costs derailed plans to pay for the building with a bank loan.

Dan Howe, DFA manager, said the association plans to use most of its $60,000 in savings toward finishing the restrooms within the next two weeks.

“We’re at the point now where we’re going to have to finance as much as we can with the reserve funds,” Howe said Thursday. “After we get our current bills paid off, we’re going to have to look at how much cash flow we have left. But we can’t deplete all of our funds; we need to keep some for operating expenses.”

Howe said DFA had planned to borrow $100,000 from BB&T to help pay for the building, which will cost about $125,000 total. But that plan fell apart because of an Internal Revenue Service requirement that the association purchase flood insurance for the building.

The cost for flood insurance is $25,000 a year.

“I was flabbergasted,” Howe said. “Before my agent gave me the quote, she asked if I was sitting down. After she finished, I was laying flat on my face on the ground.”

Howe said he and others involved with the loan originally estimated flood insurance would cost between $6,000 and $8,000 annually, but got the bad news about a month ago. They then contacted the IRS, seeking a reprieve.

“I told them this is a flood-proof building,” Howe said. “We spent an extra $15,000 making it flood-proof. We put rebar in it. We put in flood vents. It’s built of cinder blocks. It’s going to have a special epoxy paint on the bottom, so if floodwater does get in there all we have to do is come in, hose it out, disinfect it and it’s good to go.”

He added that equipment in the concession stand would be detachable, and that with enough advance warning from flood gauges on the Blackwater River, DFA members could remove the equipment from the building and move it to safer ground.

But that didn’t change the premium.

“With car insurance, you get discounts for things like multiple drivers, multiple cars and good drivers,” Howe said. “It doesn’t work that way with flood insurance. The IRS basically said the only determining factor is the elevation certification.”

Although the restrooms are near completion, Howe said there was still much to do for the adjacent concession stand, including the installation of ductwork for a fire hood system that will go over the stand’s cooking equipment.

“The installation of the ductwork is going to cost some money that we may not be able to budget right away,” Howe said. “That may be something we have to hold off on and finish later, maybe as late as the first part of next year. Hopefully we can fund it and have it up and running for next season.”

Howe said the DFA received $25,000 in grants from Franklin-Southampton Charities to construct the building, and additional grants from the Camp Foundations totaling about $6,000.

He estimates that it will cost between $30,000 and $40,000 to finish the building. To reach that goal, Howe said the DFA planned to approach the aforementioned benefactors and private donors.

“It’s not the worst situation, but in this economy it’s always nice to have a rainy day fund or a reserve fund in case something happens,” Howe said. “But this isn’t stopping the project. We will get the bathrooms done. We just won’t be able to completely finalize the concession side in the short term.”