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Rug yanked out from Franklin ABC store move

Franklin’s plans to buy a new ABC storefront were dashed this week after the town was denied a bank loan.

The town makes ample profits on its liquor store, with more than enough to cover the monthly mortgage payments of a new building. But the bank ultimately saw this revenue stream as too volatile to commit to a long-term 20 year loan.

“BB&T’s concern is what if liquor sales drop, as they have statewide,” said Franklin Town Manager Sam Greenwood.

The town could assuage those concerns by pledging town tax dollars to back the loan, realizing that it most likely would never happen. But aldermen have previously said they would not pledge tax revenue as loan collateral for a new ABC store.

Supporters of the plan hope being beside Super Walmart will increase visibility of the ABC store and drive liquor sales, which in return would reap a profit for the town. The store made a $70,000 profit last year the past two years after covering all its overhead and expenses.

The idea of buying a new storefront alongside the new Super Walmart had drawn sharp criticism, however. Some argued that the $1.25 million price tag was too high. Others argued that the town should put its new ABC store in the greater downtown area to help drive traffic to the core part of town rather than a stripmall on the outskirts.

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The Franklin ABC store currently rents a storefront for $6,400 a month, an amount that is prone to keep rising. For not much more, the town could buy its own storefront in the new Super Walmart complex.

The town would be looking at a monthly mortgage payment of $7,500 a month maximum. While it would be slightly more, the payment would be locked in for 20 years. And after that, the town would own its store free and clear.

“It is better to own over the long haul than rent,” Greenwood said.

So what now? Greenwood said the town could still move to a new location, but it would have to keep renting rather than build and own its own store.

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