Changes in plans for Garment Factory

Work continues to open a new event venue in Franklin in a former factory, but what will be included inside has changed.

Garment Factory Events, which will have space to host weddings, parties and large gatherings, will now take up more space — about 30,000 square feet — within the former factory south of downtown Franklin.

And instead of including condominiums as previously discussed, the venue will now have about 5,000 square feet for another development, possibly retail shops.

Developers aren’t in a rush to fill that space, and instead want to open the event venue — which already has events booked for early next year — and see if any of the unused space would be needed to help run that, said Billy Bemis, partner in the Bemis Group.

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“The event center is the focus of the building and project. We don’t want to get a smaller tenant in, and have to work around them, and disrupt them,” Bemis said.

Last year, the city and Bemis Group partnered on the project, which would turn the former Varynit Mills Garment Factory at Wayne and Water streets into an event center, with room for retail shops and condominiums. The city agreed to invest $1.4 million into the project.

Initially, plans were for a 10,000-square-foot event center, but that has changed due to multiple factors, Bemis said.

The event center was moved to an area of the building with more historical character, including timber beams, exposed brick and lots of glass and windows, and will now take up 30,000 square feet, Bemis said.

Part of the building is also within the floodway, which limits what they can do. They had wanted to use the basement for parking for tenants, but being in the floodway caused issues with those plans, Bemis said.

And they want the event center to be the main showpiece, and also a unique space that can draw regional events, he said.

In addition to weddings, corporate events and community fundraisers, they are also working with party and event planners in Indianapolis and Louisville to use the Garment Factory for a different experience for their clients, Bemis said.

They already have a lot of interest in the facility, with calls coming in weekly, he said.

Initially, they had hoped to have the center done by the fall. But with the venue growing and finishing work that will be time-consuming, plans now are to complete the building by the end of the year, Bemis said.

As of this week, the majority of the exterior of the building is complete, and crews are working on electrical and plumbing lines, along with custom trim work. Next week, windows are expected to be delivered and installed. And in about a month, Bemis expects drywall to be put in and walls to start being painted.

No events have been scheduled until February 2018, which was done to ensure any issues that came up with construction wouldn’t impact someone planning an event, he said.

“The last thing we wanted to do was commit to somebody and then have to go to them, whether it be corporate or wedding, and say ‘I’m sorry, we can’t accommodate you,'” he said.