FRANKLIN, Ind. (Jan. 30, 2014)– When a water pipe burst at Don & Dona’s Restaurant in downtown Franklin a week before Christmas, owners Jim and Mary Barnaby figured they might as well close the doors, remodel the inside and wait for a long-promised make-over of their storefront.
The city of Franklin hired Advanced Restoration Contractors of Indianapolis to tackle a $650,000 project to renovate facades in front of nine businesses along Jefferson Street and in downtown Franklin.
What the city got was some demolition work, broken and lost signs and lights, scaffoldings and plastic covered buildings but no real progress to sprucing up Franklin’s main strip.
Frustrated by the pace of the project, Mayor Joe McGuiness told Fox 59 News he is firing Advanced Restoration but the news comes too late for Don & Dona’s and one of its neighbors.
The longtime dining mainstay is closing its doors for good….and Lulabelles: A Curiousity Shop is right behind it.
“It’s a very big disappointment. It was a dream of mine,” said owner Lisa Bramble. “We’ve lived in Franklin for 18 years and I’ve always felt like I loved downtown, wanted to be part of it, so, it’s devastating.”
Bramble packed up boxes of toys and collectibles, some of which will be donated to charity.
“We were doing fine. Construction hit us and then they started doing all the work on the facade and that kind of hit Don & Dona’s and then it totally crashed us at that point.”
Bramble estimates she drew 70-80% of her walk-in business from the restaurant next door.
“We did have a lot of our business we lost basically because it had the sidewalks blocked off and it would be blocked off for days and the plastic and so it really hurt.”
McGuiness said state officials, who have $250,000 invested in the project and a March 31st completion deadline, agree with this decision to fire Advanced Renovation Contractors.
When Fox 59 News went to the company’s eastside headquarters Tuesday we didn’t get an answer, though our visit led to a phone call and visit to the mayor’s office by the contractor who learned that the city has begun work on voiding the contract.
McGuiness said the city will seek another contractor to finish the project.