By   – Senior Reporter, Nashville Business Journal

A Franklin developer has teed up a fully financed project that will further transform a main gateway into historic downtown Franklin.

Construction is set to begin in May on a mixed-use building at 99 E. Main St., which is the first traffic light drivers encounter after crossing over the Harpeth River into downtown Franklin. You can find that site easily today by looking for the only two tower cranes looming above the 16-block downtown grid. Those cranes are diagonally across the street, helping build the $105 million Harpeth Square development featuring a high-end Hilton Curio and 150 luxury apartments (as seen on our Williamson Watch map).

Harpeth Square is about to have a new neighbor. Chartwell Hospitality is developing the 2.2-acre site at 99 E. Main St., on behalf of landowner Preston Ingram, a prominent Franklin entrepreneur who chaired the former AIM Healthcare. The majority of the nearly 40,000-square-foot building will be office space, with retail storefronts and a rooftop restaurant offering about 100 seats.

While most of Franklin’s headline real estate activity happens in the Cool Springs commercial hub, this project is another example of reinvestment in the city’s downtown — which is the seat of the fastest-growing county in the state and one of the most affluent counties in the nation.

“I think we’re bringing a much-needed amenity to downtown,” said Will Schaedle, vice president of acquisitions and development at Chartwell Hospitality. “There’s just not a lot of Class A office space available for rent. It doesn’t come up very often. This also will create some additional retail shops to extend Main Street down toward the river.”

On March 12, Chartwell earned the unanimous approval from the city’s Historic Zoning Commission. Final approval from the city’s planning commission is expected in April, Schaedle said.

Schaedle said the project is fully financed. He declined to disclose more information about that financing, including the total project cost.

Chartwell has hired Nashville’s Crain Construction, the same company building a 244-room Hilton in Cool Springs for Chartwell.

Construction should take one year, which means the project would open in late spring or early summer of 2019, Schaedle said. There will be about 135 parking spaces created for the development.

In 2016, Chartwell and Ingram had eyed the same site for a 100-room hotel. Changes to FEMA flood maps made such a project infeasible, Schaedle said.