Franklin to purchase former Boxboard site for downtown redevelopment

FRANKLIN — The city is purchasing the former Franklin Boxboard property in hopes of using it as part of its redevelopment plan.

Council approved the purchase of the former recycled paperboard manufacturer and a former recycling center that is bordered by East Sixth Street, Anderson Street and Riley Boulevard. It is also located across Anderson Street where the new Franklin High School is under construction

The city will spend more than $1.03 million to purchase the 10-acre site from CB Properties of Franklin, LLC, which is expected to close Dec. 15, according to the agreement.

Mayor Brent Centers said all of the council members “are on the same page”

“We all know we are doing this because it is the “cornerstone of the downtown redevelopment,” Centers said.

City Manager Jonathan Westendorf said the entire site has been cleared for future development. He said the city plans to negotiate a financing plan through the Warren County Port Authority this fall and prior to the Dec. 15 closing.

“I think this is a huge step forward,” he said.

Cohen acquired the former Mindlin Recycling property in June 2017 and the former Boxboard facility in November 2017. Franklin Boxboard ended production of recycled paperboard in August 2011 when 81 people lost their hourly or salaried jobs. The plant had been in operation for 100 years. The building’s size was between 170,000 and 200,000 square feet.

City officials have been concerned for many years about the appearance of the recycling facility as it’s located on a main thoroughfare into the city and the impression it creates. Mindlin Recycling used to collect newspaper, cardboard, sheet iron, heavy iron, aluminum cans, copper, brass and electronic scrap. Cohen purchased the 100-year-old family business.

“I was happy with the price to purchase the site,” Westendorf said. “Cohen has helped us to achieve our vision and will help us with marketing and developing the property in the future. I’m thrilled.”

Westendorf said preliminary downtown redevelopment plans for the site is identified for mixed-use development that would include residential, retail and commercial. In addition, preliminary plans call for Seventh Street to go through the site and extend to Riley Boulevard he said.

“I would love to see a restaurant on that corner with open seating,” he said. “It could be a nice spot.”

“It’s been a busy 18 months but it’s fun to see progress being made and glad we have a plan,” Westendorf said. “This is a serious step forward.”

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