Franklin garage proposal may get new life

A Westwood developer said he hopes to revive a proposal to build a 1,000-space parking garage near the MBTA station in downtown Franklin.
Michael Mouhanna, who owns Depot Plaza on Main Street, said he wants to develop a lease agreement with the town and the MBTA to build a garage for commuter and municipal parking on the existing municipal and MBTA parking lots.

"That garage is going to bring people from the (Forge Park) station to downtown Franklin," he said. "This project is going to make the downtown area so beautiful."

Mouhanna said he first proposed the idea to town officials several years ago, but was unable to follow through on the plan because of the recession.

In addition to the garage, Mouhanna hopes to demolish the plaza building and construct a 200,000-square-foot mixed-use building, which would contain retail, office and residential space and have its own 60-space garage underneath.

The entire project, for which Mouhanna hopes to seek approval as early as this summer, could cost $16 million to 22 million. Work on the Franklin project is dependent on his ability to sell or lease space in a shopping plaza he owns in Weymouth, he said.

Former Town Councilor Christopher Feeley said he recalls the council's economic development subcommittee discussing Mouhanna's idea several years ago, but the discussion never went beyond initial drawings.

"Obviously it's great someone wants to invest that kind of money in downtown, but it's a lot of dough (to come up with in this economy)," Feeley said, adding he thinks a garage may be needed if development picks up as the economy improves.

The town and MBTA had previously considered jointly building a parking garage over the railroad tracks, but the plan never went forward because the MBTA was not interested, Town Councilor Judith Pond Pfeffer said in an e-mail.

Town Administrator Jeffrey Nutting declined to comment on the idea because previous discussions never advanced beyond a conceptual plan.

Town Councilor Robert Vallee, who has spoken against proposed zoning changes for downtown Franklin that would tighten height and parking requirements for developments, said the concept of a parking garage is intriguing.

"I'd personally welcome something like this," said Vallee, who owns a jewelry store in downtown Franklin. "If you go to North Attleboro or Milford, everyone has a municipal parking lot, and we have almost nothing."

Town Council Vice Chairman Stephen Whalen, who takes the commuter rail to Boston for work, said parking has been easier to find in recent years.

"I just question whether or not you could have a large parking structure," Whalen said. "There's no way I could imagine that a parking structure like that could pay for itself. How much could you charge (to park)?"

Whalen said any parking garage plan should not further strain municipal finances.

"It would sort of be a nicety as opposed to a necessity," he said. "I would love to see a pressing need for a parking facility like that because it would mean some revitalization of downtown."
Contact
From
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
Website
www.mbta.com
Date
  • Join our community for FREE today!

  • Create and share your own profile

  • Join the discussions

  • Publish your own items

  • Subscription to our Weekly eNewsletter

your benefits?

Get connected with parking professionals worldwide

Create your account

Sign in with LinkedIn Close

FREE membership benefits

  • * create and share your own profile
  • * join the discussions
  • * publish your own items on parking-net.commanage news, jobs, tenders, companies, events, showcases, educations, associations and literature.
  • * subscribe to our weekly eNewsletter
Add news yourself

Comments

There are no comments yet for this item

Join the discussion

You can only add a comment when you are logged in. Click here to login