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Sacred Heart plans unique apartment complex

Priests, public would live in same building

July 22, 2009

Franklin — Construction should begin this fall on a new kind of apartment complex near Whitnall Park.

The Priests of the Sacred Heart is proposing a four-story building that will house retired and active priests, as well as non-clergy residents age 55 and up.

If approved by the city, the complex would be located across from the organization's Sacred Heart School of Theology at 7330 S. Lovers Lane Road.

The building would have 180 apartments. Fifty units would be set aside for active and retired priests on a private wing, and the rest would be one- and two-bedroom apartments for seniors.

These types of complexes are becoming more common throughout the country as religious organizations try to suit the needs of an aging population, Deacon David Nagel said.

"We see there is a need for this kind of housing situation, that there are many people who are interested in it," he said. "We feel it will be a benefit to the local community and to our religious congregation in providing for future housing for our people as they get older."

'Main Street' section proposed

A central common area - described as a "Main Street" - would connect the two sections of the campus. It would be 10,000 square feet with amenities such as a kitchen, community room, beauty shop and media center.

The facility would be in a prime location because of its proximity to Highway 100 and Rawson Avenue. It also would have scenic views overlooking Monastery Lake and trails wrapping around the complex that would be open to the public.

Construction is expected to begin this fall. The wing for priests would be the first phase of the project, followed by two phases of construction of public apartments.

Construction would take two years at the longest, but officials are hoping for a shorter time frame, said Mark Carstensen, president of Mark Carstensen Construction and Development and a co-applicant on the project.

On the property now is a smaller facility with 15 units of retirement housing for the Priests of Sacred Heart, but the building is inadequate and outdated, officials said.

Carstensen and Nagel estimated the new development, which lies in the Franklin School District, would generate $156,000 per year in tax revenue.

City welcomes project

Franklin aldermen and Mayor Thomas Taylor were enthusiastic of the plan when it was presented to the Common Council on Tuesday.

Taylor, admitting his bias as a former altar boy, said the project would bring "intangible" benefits to the community.

"You can't measure it, but to get the types of individuals who are going to live there and interact on a daily basis in our community, I think most communities would really flock to get this," he said.

All four aldermen who attended the meeting supported the plan, though their vote was not binding as it was a conceptual review of the project. A few more city approvals are needed before the project is finalized.

Residents who spoke at the meeting also supported it, and applause broke out after the discussion.

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