The Hill, affordable housing in Williamson County, Tennessee


Commonly known as “The Hill,” just steps from the heart of downtown Franklin, the property is well on its way to becoming an affordable community.

The Franklin Hill Project, LLC has partnered with the City of Franklin to create a community of 39 affordable worker housing units that can be purchased at a fraction of the cost of the average Williamson County home.

The group’s proposal to create the homes on the lot classified as “surplus” by the City of Franklin was selected and approved at the May 2022 Mayor and City Council meeting.

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Discussions about affordable housing, particularly in The Hill, have been going on for several years – since at least 2016 – but plans for the community are finally coming to fruition.

The Franklin Hill Project, LLC is a coalition of four local non-profit organizations focused on housing development – Hard Bargain Association, Franklin Housing Authority, Community Housing Partnership of Williamson County, and Habitat for Humanity Williams-Maury.

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Here’s what we know about the plan so far:

Where and what is The Hill?

The Hill is located at 403 and 405 Fifth Ave. N., past Sonic Drive-in at the intersection of Hillsboro Road and 3rd Ave. N. Located between the fast food restaurant and the Mt. Hope and Toussaint L’Ouverture cemeteries is a vacant lot overlooking the often busy Hillsboro Rd and Bicentennial Park.

The city-owned property used to house a metal building used for the city’s water and fleet management. The land was declared “surplus” property by Franklin BOMA, stating “the property would be relinquished to achieve a desired public purpose,” according to a 2020 resolution.

The Hill lot is a piece of city lot that formerly housed the water and road maintenance departments.

What is planned?

Currently, 39 townhouses are planned for the community, including 16 affordable and 23 work units.

The total cost of each home ranges from $275,000 to $375,000 depending on the type of home. The real estate will be deeded for 50 years, which includes a condition of owner occupancy. The restriction is designed to help ban investors from buying specifically to turn or win, and the 50-year cycle begins anew with each new owner.

The community will have a homeowners’ association to ensure “the property is maintained and looks phenomenal,” according to Wayne Weaver, CEO of Community Housing Partnership, who shared the project with BOMA members in May.

A representation of what The Hill could look like once the 39 affordable and workable homes are built.

How much will it cost to build?

The property is valued at approximately $1.2 million, said Hard Bargain CEO Derrick Solomon. With support from the city, other grants, and donors, most of the acquisition costs are covered.

However, the property is co-owned by Franklin’s water utility, a separate entity. To cover approximately 40% of the company, The Franklin Hill Project, LLC is responsible for over $470,000. So each of the four affiliated nonprofits committed to raising around $95,000 to cover the rest.

According to those responsible, the construction of the community will cost more than 10 million US dollars.

Who will be able to live in The Hill?

Head of the Franklin Hill Project, LLC. discussed the creation of selection criteria based on:

  • financial need
  • Be an existing resident or employee of the City of Franklin or Williamson County
  • A lottery scheme for what they intend will generate a great surge of interest
Hard Bargain Association Executive Director Derrick Solomon looks down Hillsboro Road as he walks through the named property in downtown Franklin on Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Along the road

Hard Bargain Association executive director Derrick Solomon said the new community would benefit people hoping to live or stay in Franklin, as well as local businesses that are struggling to retain employees amid Williamson County’s ever-rising cost of living .

Additionally, the addition of homes intentionally for sale rather than rent could help locals break the cycle of poverty for generations of families.

Living in the Hard Bargain community, Solomon took over leadership of the organization his father-in-law helped found in the early 2000s.

“It’s a love project for me,” he told BOMA members in April. “We want to give something back to society.

“I know we can’t control demand, but we can definitely help supply and expand the City of Franklin and Williamson County.”

In the coming months the property will be studied for site design and architectural planning purposes.

Recent plans call for homes to be built, purchased and occupied within 28 months of the LLC being selected as a property development partner.

Anika Exum is a reporter for the Tennessean, covering Williamson County. Reach them at [email protected] or further Tweet @aniexum.

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