Brewing possibilities in Franklin: Town board considers lease offer for old town hall

Franklin could soon get its first taste of microbrew beer. An offer to lease the old town hall building and turn it into a brewery is currently on the table.


“We would love to be on the south end of the Asheville Ale Trail,” said Ken Murphy, co-owner of the proposed brewery, “And we think having the business downtown would provide some vibrancy and energy to downtown.” 

Murphy is hoping the brewery, called The Lazy Hiker, garners the Franklin Board of Aldermen’s blessing. It won’t be the first time officials have considered their options for the old town hall, with this proposal becoming the third offer in six months.

Perhaps, this time will be different. The aldermen have called a special session for Tuesday night to consider the offer.

“Whether that’s unanimous, I can’t say, but we’ve had good feedback from the board about our business locating there,” Murphy said.  

The draft proposal would have the brewery paying $1,250 rent per month for the first year and double that amount afterward. In addition, they would be required to invest $185,000 in improvements to the downtown building during the first 18 months of the lease. The proposal also includes an option to buy the property for $325,000. 

That’s a better offer than the company made the town board in January, when it proposed buying the building outright for $200,000. 

“The taxpayers have money invested in that building, so we have to make sure we make a return on their investment,” said Warren Cabe, Franklin town manager.

The building, which was constructed in the 1950s and used as Franklin Town Hall until 2009, was appraised at over $1 million in 2008. But since the real estate crash its value has dipped down to the 2013 value of $725,000. 

Of course, the agreement is far from final. Even if the board votes in favor of it — Tuesday’s meeting had not commenced as of press time — it will be some time before Franklin residents can stroll downtown for a glass of fresh-brewed beer. The sale would require an upset bid process and a final vote, likely given at the board’s April meeting, to approve, and after that both parties would have to go through the closing process. 

“You’re probably looking close to July by the time we go through the closing process,” Cabe estimated.

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