The Franklin Review Appeal, Jan. 25, 2012

Solar panels, EV stations add new layer to Factory’s history

By Kevin Walters

Staff Writer

FRANKLIN — Once upon a time, stoves were made inside the walls of the massive Depression-era factory along Franklin Road.

The manufacturing days are long since over, and the factory was retrofitted and remade into The Factory at Franklin, a shopping mall, after businessman Calvin Lehew bought the 260,000-square-foot site in the late 1990s from the city for $1 million. Lehew didn’t want to see the place torn down and its remains carried away to a landfill.

“The cost of the trucks taking the debris to the landfill alone would have been tremendous,” said Lehew, 71.

As it just so happens, the factory’s production days aren’t entirely finished — and neither is Lehew’s focus on being environmentally conscious.

Newly installed solar panels on the roof of the complex will begin capturing sunlight and help generate electricity to offset the mall’s electric bills. Meanwhile, new electric- and hybrid-vehicle charging stations are being installed in the mall’s parking lot to allow shoppers to stop and charge their cars. Follow this link to read more about The Factory’s innovations.