Housing authority looks to expand

Published 10:02 am Friday, April 25, 2014

FRANKLIN—Space has become valuable at the Franklin Redevelopment and Housing Authority on Campbell Avenue. But by late spring to early summer, the agency will have a new home, the former BB&T bank branch on Main and Fourth streets in downtown Franklin, which had closed in spring 2011.

“We’ve grown a little,” said Philip Page, the agency’s executive director. Including himself, there are 14 employees, both full and part-time working in 2,500 square feet at the Berkley Court Manager’s office. “We’re the only RDA in the region that doesn’t have a separate administrative office. Most others do,” he added. “Even the parking lot gets pretty full. It’s time to get some more space.”

The search and negotiations for a larger venue took several months. The purchase was made on March 11. The contract price for the renovations is $375,000; the building has 4,650 square feet and there’s room for expansion.

The funding comes from a loan through the Community Capital Bank of Virginia, and will be paid back through administrative fees to the central office.

“We’ve already started with an architect to do renderings for us,” said Page. “We expect that construction will be done by mid-June, and to move in then.

“We did consider new construction on vacant land, but nothing really of size we were interested in,” he added. “This is a great opportunity to reuse existing space. BB&T has been vacant for several years, but kept in shape.”

Page, the director since December 2011, said the agency also wanted to be accessible to landlords, vendors and clients.

“Being in Franklin allowed us do to that,” he said. “We really are excited about using downtown office space. More importantly, the city’s economy is becoming stronger, and we’re really glad to be a part of that.” Once the agency is in its new headquarters, that will free up space for such programs as the Franklin Scholars after-school tutoring class.

“We’re excited about that,” said Page.