Street party in historic Franklin to celebrate recent downtown development

What’s happening: The Village of Franklin is ready to celebrate its recent downtown development wins with what’s quickly becoming a summer tradition around these parts, the Summer Block Party. Now in its second year, the Summer Block Party will take place on Franklin Road in historic downtown Franklin on Wednesday, Aug. 24, from 5:30 to 9 p.m.

Backstory: The Summer Block Party launched last year as a way to celebrate the streetscape project that’s making downtown Franklin a more pedestrian-friendly and attractive place to shop, dine, and enjoy the historic buildings in a community first established in 1825. Downtown itself was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969.

Construction delays meant that the streetscape project wasn’t completed in time for last year’s event, but with only a couple trees left to be planted, it’s now almost finished. The project added new sidewalks, street lights, and pedestrian-crossing lights, as well as landscaping, trees, improved drainage infrastructure, and more.

Pam Hansen, former Village Council President and current council member. (File photo: Joe Powers Insitu Photography)“We got feedback from our downtown businesses that we were looking a little shabby and that they wanted us to do something about it. So, we did,” says Pam Hansen, former Village Council President and current council member. “Now with the streetscape nearly complete, people are finding reasons to keep coming back.”

What’s planned: This year’s event features live performances from the Sean Blackman Trio and student musicians from the Axis Academy; sidewalk sales from downtown merchants; food trucks and craft cocktails; free ice cream from Cool Jacks; and kids’ activities. Proceeds will benefit the Main Street Franklin Fund nonprofit. More event information is available online.

Reason to celebrate: In addition to celebrating the streetscape improvements, downtown Franklin recently added two downtown merchants, Madeleine’s Patisserie and Paws Pet Boutique. The Van Every building, which opened as the Temperance Hotel in 1897, recently sold, and the buyer is promising new businesses at the historic site.

Lisa Dunn, Main Street Franklin board chair. (File photo: Joe Powers Insitu Photography)What they’re saying: “Last year’s event focused on bringing attention to local merchants. This year, we celebrate a downtown with no vacant storefronts, a completed construction effort, and a walkable downtown, with sidewalks extending from 13 Mile Road to 14 Mile Road,” says Lisa Dunn, Main Street Franklin board chair and owner of Franklin business Déjà vu Upscale Resale. “We are bringing back all the best features from last year’s event with some new additions – we know it will be another great event.”

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.