The council voted 5-0 Tuesday morning to give more than $200,000 a year in tax rebate incentives over the next 10 years to a Calif.-based developer who’s planning to rehabilitate the struggling shopping center. The developer has not been identified.
“It’s a very good project for the city,” city clerk Kathy Chambless told the council prior to the vote on the matter. “It will be a good development for revenue generation.”
The proposed redevelopment of the shopping center is expected to bring in national retailers TJ Maxx, Hobby Lobby, Shoe Carnival and Petco, creating 70-90 jobs and bringing in more than $500,000 a year in sales tax for the city.
Linda Lewis, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County, said during the meeting the work between the city, the chamber and Retail Strategies, a consulting firm hired to help lure retail development to the city, has been the catalyst for the project.
“This is a true partnership. We’ve spent many, many hours with everybody looking at the figures,” Lewis said. “This project has been in the works for more than a year.”
The developer is expected to begin work on the project in early 2014, with businesses opening by fall 2014.
“When you look at economic development and retail growth, it is so competitive,” Lewis said. “Most people don’t understand that it takes many, many people working together to make something like this happen, and hopefully now it’s coming to fruition.”
Lewis said the sales tax revenue and jobs created by the project is important not only to Jasper but the entire county.
“It’s bringing a lot of opportunities,” she said. “This is going to lay the foundation for other retailers to want to come here.”
In other business, the council:
•approved the minutes of the Nov. 5 council meeting.
•approved a request for a parade permit for Nov. 30 for the Juvenile Myositis Day and a parade permit for the third annual Cure JM Turkey Day Trot on Thanksgiving Day.
The council also approved a parade permit request for the annual Jingle Bell Run, set for Saturday, Dec. 7, this year.
•recognized members of the Walker High football team for their season.
Walker finished 8-2 on the season and won the Class 5A, Region 6 championship but was banned from the playoffs because of an incident following the season-opening game against Cullman. It was the second straight year the Vikings won the region championship.
Mayor Sonny Posey praised the team for its successful season following the incident.
“I’m honored to be in the presence of these individuals,” Posey said.
The team was represented at the council meeting by the seniors on the team, as well as interim head coach Heath Brunner, Walker High principal Gary Boling and athletics director Jimmie Alexander.
Seniors on the team were Austin Mansell, Stone Stephenson, Kevin Clay, Jarrett Tuggle, Jaiquan Crook, Lucas Albritton, Ran Crump, Cody Brown, Joe Bell, K.J. Farris, Brady Pugh, Torelle Young, Chris Young, Cannon Dunn, Branson McGough and Hayden Cain.
“You have no idea how proud we are of you,” Posey said.
“They’ve all become fine young men,” added council president Gary Cowen.
•approved a request to close a portion of 19th Street, between 4th and 5th avenues, from 5 until 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 3 to allow dance teams to perform prior to the county’s annual Christmas parade through downtown Jasper.
•approved a request from city purchasing agent Tommy Knight to renew a contract with EDKO, LLC, for applying herbicide to selected rights-of-way in the city.
•approved a supplemental agreement with Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood for work on turning lanes on Airport Road.
The project was expanded from its original size and that forced council members to the supplement agreement.
An introduction was made concerning engineering work on Viking Drive.
•adopted a resolution regarding cost for a work on a property that falls under the city’s nuisance abatement ordinance. The property is located at 2210 12th Avenue West.
The council also heard from city planner Keith Pike regarding several other properties that fall under the ordinance.
•Resident Bill Cleghorn requested the city look at its alcohol ordinance regarding a request from VFW Post 4850 to regain its alcohol license.
The question about the post’s regaining its license revolves around the distance from the post to an adjacent church.