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60-unit apartment complex proposed in Franklin

fr franklinThe proposed development of a 60-unit apartment complex in Franklin may be another sign that the economy is recovering, slowly but surely. 

The new apartment complex could also be good news for those looking for affordable and high-quality housing.

Jim Yamin, president of Workforce Homestead Inc., said he has developed similar affordable apartments across the state, most recently in Lenoir, Morganton, Concord and Durham. 

“I’ve been active for a number of years in developing affordable rental developments statewide, and I’ve been particularly interested in researching opportunities in the western counties,” he said. “My research led me to the Franklin market.”

Workforce Homestead wants to purchase about 5 acres from James Vanderwoude on Siler Road. Yamin said the location seemed ideal given its proximity to a public park, shopping and a county library branch.  

“I’m seeing it as being a very desirable part of town,” Yamin said. 

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The proposed apartment complex, Indigo, would offer one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments that are affordable and energy-efficient. Yamin said the garden-style flats would have a 2.0 Energy Star standard, which means residents would save on utilities. 

“The need is there — especially for high-quality, energy-efficient affordable housing,” he said. “Trailers and mobile homes serve as affordable housing by default, but it’s not. You have to spend so much for utilities that it’s not affordable.”

Yamin said rent on the apartments would range from $440 to $680 a month depending on the number of bedrooms and the size. The plans call for three-story buildings and one community building. The exterior walls are designed with a blend of brick and siding.

The community building would include a computer center, fitness center, laundry facilities and a multipurpose room. The outdoor amenities would include a playground, picnic area with a grill and a gazebo. 

The development is still in the early planning stages. Vanderwoude has requested that his 61 acres be rezoned from Residential to Commercial 2, and Workforce Homestead has applied for a special permit from the town of Franklin to build the apartment complex on 5 of those acres. Yamin also is working on getting financing and won’t get final approval until mid-August. If all goes as planned, Indigo construction could begin early next year and finish within 12 months. 

Vanderwoude said he feels like the apartments would be a great use of his property. 

“The market has changed a little bit since the recession,” he said. “Ten years ago people were looking for big homes — now they’re looking for something smaller and more affordable, but they still want quality.”


Permit process

Justin Setser, town planner for Franklin, presented the rezoning and special permit requests to the board of aldermen last week. He said Vanderwoude was asking that his three parcels totaling 61 acres be rezoned from Residential 1 to Commercial 2. However, the town planning board recommended the property be rezoned to “Secondary Commercial Special Use.”

The same commercial developments are allowed in both zonings, but the special use designation requires the developer to apply for a permit before any future development can be approved. 

“It allows the town to have more say in future development on the property,” Setser said.  

If the town board was concerned about a particular development, it could choose to only grant the special permit with stipulations, including buffers, sidewalks or greenways.  

Setser said he couldn’t give out many details about the project other than what’s on the application because the special-use permit is a quasi-judicial process that requires the town to hear the proposal at a public hearing without prejudice. 

“It’s like court. The board will have a hearing after it gets the recommendations from the planning board. That’s when board members are supposed to see everything for first time,” he said.

Board members and the town attorney are told not to go look at the property or ask people what they think about the proposed project. The board went through the same process two years ago before approving Westgate Terrace Apartments behind Ingles, Setser said. He said the preliminary plans for Indigo were similar to Westgate Terrace.

The planning board will discuss the project in more detail at its regular meeting at 4 p.m. Monday, March 16, at town hall. 

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