‘It’s bittersweet to see it go down’: Demolition underway at former Franklin Boxboard plant

Demolition is continuing on the former Franklin Boxboard building, and officials hope the site can be redeveloped after it cleared of the longtime Franklin business.

City Manager Sonny Lewis said if Cohen USA hadn’t bought the former papermaking factory, it probably would never have been torn down.

Demolition work started last week at the former paper mill at 50 E. Sixth St., and Lewis said work started slowly but is progressing after some rain delays.

“The rubble is starting to pile up,” he said.

Nick Oldfield, Cohen’s marketing vice president said the demolition “should be completed by the end of the year.”

After more than a century in operation, The Newark Group closed the paper mill and cut about 80 jobs in 2011. The former 170,000- to 200,000-square-foot paper mill was purchased by B.P. Logan LLC in 2012 but never reopened.

“It was sad to see them go, but after the equipment was sold, you knew they were never coming back,” Lewis said. “I had a lot of friends who worked there and where their parents worked.”

The facility was purchased from B.P. Logan LLC by Middletown-based Cohen USA in 2017. Last November, Cohen USA announced it was closing its recycling center in Franklin and moving those jobs to Middletown. It also announced the upcoming demolition of the former Mindlin Recycling Center and the former Boxboard plant. The company also determined the old Boxboard facility was an unsuitable option for the fiber processing operation.

“It’s bittersweet to see it go down because the company supported the community for many years,” Lewis said. “but in the condition it was in, it was no good to anyone.”

Lewis, who has worked for the city of Franklin since 1973, said he’s “looking forward to working with Cohen to get some kind of economic development that the whole community will be proud of.”

Franklin Mayor Todd Hall agreed with Lewis, saying a lot of people spent their lives working there.

“It’s a blessing it’s coming down,” Hall said. “We can revitalize the area for a business or an industry to move in and help move the city forward. I’m glad it’s moving forward and open it up to see progress.”

Founded in 1924 and family-owned for four generations, Cohen Recycling is the largest scrap metal recycler in the region, with more than 20 locations in four Midwest states. Cohen processes more than 1 million tons of metal annually and has recently expanded into electronics recycling for both consumers and businesses. Cohen, which is headquartered in Middletown, employs approximately 550 people.

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