There’s a lot going on in Franklin, Tennessee nowadays. Massive auto dealerships have opened, a top grocer is expanding, restaurants and retail stores have undergone facelifts and new businesses are moving in.
With all this change, the State Route 96 (Murfreesboro Road) corridor is due for a makeover. The roughly 1-mile stretch of Franklin’s first interchange on Interstate 65 was where Franklin residents shopped and ate dinner in the 1970s and ’80s. But when the mall went up in Cool Springs in 1991, the 96 corridor lost much of its luster. The buildings and signage lining the crowded commercial strip were typical of the early growth off an interstate exit. Now within a mile of the interchange there are 17 chain restaurants, eight auto dealerships and five gas stations.
Franklin City Engineer David Parker thinks it’s sort of a natural thing that happens over time with the redevelopment for that type of a corridor and it was time for revitalization in that area.
After a $10 million-plus expansion, Ford-Lincoln of Franklin opened its new dealership with dual showrooms on S.R. 96 in December and is on track to be the largest Ford dealership in its five-state region when the new service bays are complete. On the eastern side of the interchange, Darrell Waltrip Automotive opened its $14 million Buick GMC showroom and service center to add to its 30-acre auto campus. Also within the past few years, many chain retailers and restaurants have had facelifts and rebranding.
Greg Brown, co-owner and a managing partner of Automotive Management Services Inc., which owns the new Ford-Lincoln of Franklin, said the city is starting to put more focus on the 96 corridor again.
City officials have recognized the lasting viability of the 96 corridor through the years by adding connections to Mallory Lane and Carothers Parkway in Cool Springs, widening it to five lanes, and then taking the widening improvements to Royal Oaks Boulevard, which also was extended to Mallory Lane.