Council considers $3M in development incentives
by Daniel Gaddy
Oct 12, 2012 | 3080 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
City of Jasper officials held a work session on Thursday to discuss pitching in $3 million to help a project that would renovate the old Goody’s building and bring three national retailers into the Jasper Square shopping center. Photo by: Daniel Gaddy
City of Jasper officials held a work session on Thursday to discuss pitching in $3 million to help a project that would renovate the old Goody’s building and bring three national retailers into the Jasper Square shopping center. Photo by: Daniel Gaddy
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City of Jasper officials held a work session Thursday to discuss providing $3 million to help pay for a construction project that developers say will bring three national retailers into the area.

Representatives with the Birmingham-based retail development firm Blackwater Resources are hoping to renovate the former Goody’s shopping center in Jasper Square.

Senior developer Jeff Werszner told council members the three retailers could create 100 jobs and have annual sales of more than $10 million.

The representatives requested the names of the businesses not be publicized because a deal has not been finalized.

John Abernathy, director of development for Blackwater Resources, said the construction project has a $3 million funding shortfall.

The developers have a current agreement with the City of Jasper in which the municipality will provide $1.5 million for the project, but are requesting that amount be doubled.

Both of the developers said Jasper’s retail recruiter Don Goetz and city leaders have done a great job to help attract businesses, but without the $3 million addition from the City of Jasper, the project will not be feasible for Blackwater Resources.

Werzner and Abernathy said the $3 million deal, which would be given in increments as the developers meet certain milestones in the project, is modeled after one used by the City of Oxford.

All of the officials at the meeting expressed concern about whether the City of Jasper could afford such an incentive.

Council member Gary Cowen said that as valuable as the three retailers would be to the city, the $3 million investment represents a huge risk. “I’m looking at it, and I have some deep reservations,” he said.

City Clerk Kathy Chambless told the council members that the annual payments on a $3 million line of credit would be $450,000 a year for 10 years.

To give the officials a reference point, she said the city will likely have $20 million in total revenues this year, and it ended the previous fiscal year with a $150,000 budget surplus.

Goetz reminded the officials that the project itself will be a huge selling point to attract more businesses. He said that when retailers back out of establishing a location in Jasper, they often say it’s because of a lack of other large, national retail stores.

“The synergy thing is an important aspect,” he said.