Tiny Franklin Village called ‘a hidden jewel’
BY BREANN DOTSTRY
OU News Bureau
At the intersection of Fourteen Mile and Franklin Road is a flashing red traffic signal leading into Franklin Village. It’s the only traffic light in the tiny community.
Southfield, Bloomfield Hills, Birmingham and Farmington Hills all border Franklin Village. Even after driving through them, you’d never know this hidden community, founded in 1825, is next door.
The 2.7 square-mile Franklin Village is home to mainly health care professionals, business owners and scientific/technical service providers with a median household income of $135,078, according to the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.
The downtown is two blocks made up of 28 small businesses, a church, library and park.
“Franklin is truly a hidden jewel,” said Frank Yanke, a shop owner.
Yanke Designs Fine Jewelry has been located in downtown Franklin for more than two decades and said he can’t imagine moving his shop anywhere else.
“Shop owners here really enjoy what they do and that makes the quality of the products better as well as the costumer service here,” Yanke said. “Also, shopping here or any small store you’re going to see the owners most of the time there. That gives customers a good feeling.”
“Franklin is a great place to raise a family. The community is warm and everyone knows each other,” said village resident Eli Saulson. “People are always out walking their dogs or riding their bikes, and everyone speaks to everyone else.”
Saulson said, “I love living in Franklin. It has everything we need here, and the schools in the Birmingham School District are great.”
The community has a volunteer fire department and its own police department. The two most common crimes in Franklin are thefts and burglaries, according to citydata.com.
“We have a bank, a gas station, you can even get your car detailed right there across the street,” Saulson said. “We have a park with tennis courts and baseball diamonds, and in the summer there are outdoor concerts, movies in the park, a round-up, parades, classic car shows and a sledding hill.”
A thousand residents lived in the village when it was incorporated in 1954, said Clerk Eileen Pulker. Within a decade, the population grew to about 3,300 and has stayed roughly the same since.
Jim Kochensparger Sr., a former 20-year resident of Franklin who moved away in 1990, frequently comes back to visit his son, Jim, and daughter in-law, Ruth, the owners of the Franklin Grill.
Kochensparger said everything is pretty much still the same. Most of the shops have been there for more than two decades.
“Nothing has changed much. The only thing different are the homes,” Kochensparger said. “They tore down the old houses and built these new ‘mega’ homes.”
In 2010, Franklin’s median home cost $556,600, which is almost four times the median for Michigan homes, according to SEMCOG. Of Franklin’s 1,013 homes, 145 are worth more than a million dollars.
Pulker said there are only a few underdeveloped lots in the village, but many of the smaller homes have been demolished and replaced with larger homes. Untouched are homes in the historic district.
According to Franklin’s Historic District Design Guidelines Booklet, before any adjustments are made to the outside of any home or building, the Historic Districts Commission must approve. Changes made to the inside are fine.
To maintain the historic look, there are no sidewalks in the historic district, and any changes made to the community are voted on. A few summers ago, the commission voted against a cell phone tower in the park because it was “unattractive.”
The historic commission also votes on such things as name changes to downtown shops. Two shops had a hard time getting their names approved: Déjà vu and Glamour Puss.
Déjà vu Resale is a boutique that buys upscale designed clothing, shoes and accessories. It is housed in the oldest shop downtown, which was built in 1840. With business going well, owner Ruth Kochensparger and her husband, Jim, decided to take on another project, The Franklin Grill.
The Franklin Grill, a former horse buggy manufacturing shop, was opened about 10 years ago, but struggled. Jim and Ruth Kochensparger, the building owners, took it over.
“I have work 24-7 to turn this place around, we changed the menu, we redecorated and added some happy hour specials,” Kochensparger said. “And within a year and a half, we had turned this place around.”
Grill bartender Patrick Maxwell said that hiring key people has helped make it successful.
“We incorporate the community, and we have great food,” Maxwell said.
Short URL: http://www.ounewsbureau.com/?p=2430