Owners ask for rezoning of Avondale Mills property
by DAVID ATCHISON
Jan 20, 2011 | 2541 views |  0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
PELL CITY — Owners of the former Avondale Mills plant property are requesting that part of the 28-acre site be rezoned for apartments.

“We have a contract with another developer who is going to purchase the property from us and build apartments,” said Kevin Whiteside, president of Pell City-Tifton Properties LLC, a subsidiary of Thunder Enterprises of Chattanooga.

Whiteside said Pell City-Tifton Properties is selling the northern portion of the former Avondale Mills property to Cahaba Valley Development Corporation of Birmingham.

He said Sam Johnston, who represents Cahaba Valley Development, is expected to attend the Thursday, Jan. 27, Planning and Zoning Board meeting, when the rezoning request should be considered.

“Obviously they are not going to purchase the property if we do not get the zoning for apartments,” Whiteside said.

He said he will also attend Thursday’s meeting.

“As the property owner, we have to make the zoning change request,” he said.

Whiteside said the property is currently zoned for light manufacturing. The company is requesting that the zoning for 11-12 acres be changed to R-4, a high-density residential district, for apartments.

He said apartments are being constructed on the northern side of the Avondale property, the portion that borders Comer Avenue. Pell City-Tifton Properties will retain ownership of the southern half of the property, 15-17 acres, which borders U.S. 78 or Cogswell Avenue.

Whiteside said it is their intention to develop the remaining 15-17 acres of the property for commercial use.

“The apartments will serve as a buffer between the Mill Village and the new commercial development,” he said.

Whiteside said Pell City-Tifton Properties hopes to sell the property to a commercial developer so the property is anchored with a big store.

“That’s our intent, marketing it for some commercial-type development,” Whiteside said.

He said it could be similar to the development south of the Avondale Mills property on U.S. 231, the Maple Village Apartments and the new Publix store development in the South Park Shopping Center.

He said if Pell City-Tifton Enterprises can’t find a commercial developer interested in the property, the company could divide the property into smaller commercial parcels.

“It’s a great piece of property with good roads,” Whiteside said. “It’s perfect for commercial development and could enhance the downtown area of Pell City.”

He said it’s unfortunate that Pell City-Tifton Properties could not work out an agreement with the city for the purchase of the former Avondale Mills plant site.

At one point in the negotiations, the Chattanooga-based company offered to sell the former Avondale Mills well site on U.S. 231 and the 28-acre Avondale Mills plant site together for $2.2 million.

The company wanted to sell the former plant site “as is,” but the council expressed concern that it could not spend taxpayer money without proper soil tests, an appraisal and a geological survey of the property.

Mayor Bill Hereford wanted the council to buy the property as a possible site for a public library and city park.

Whiteside said the good thing about the proposed development now on the table is that it will put more people in the historic downtown district and help keep residents shopping in downtown Pell City.

“A lot of commercial developments are moving toward interstates,” Whiteside said. “This could help the downtown district stay alive.”

Contact David Atchison at datchison@dailyhome.com.