“In 2002, the CDA played a very important role in bringing Walmart to town,” said attorney John Rea, who serves as attorney for the city and the Commercial Development Authority.
CDA members Jeff Jones, Dennis Brooks and Bala Baptiste were at the meeting and members Ray Miller and Matthew Pope were absent.
Rea said in 2002, the CDA entered into a lease with the Walmart development.
“The city of Pell City bought the property and gave it to the CDA,” he said. “Walmart paid $250,000 up front and has been paying $25,000 per year in a 10-year lease. When the lease ends in September, Walmart has the option to purchase the acreage for $250,000. Walmart has not said if they are exercising the option, but I think it would be shocking if they didn’t exercise that option.”
Rea said the 23.38 acres is the only property in the shopping complex that the CDA owns.
Baptiste asked if the CDA had any options in the lease contract.
“This is a one-way Walmart option for them to choose,” Rea said. “The CDA is locked into this deal.”
Rea said if Walmart chooses to exercise the option, the money would go to the CDA but then be transferred to the city, as per the agreement.
“They also may want to close earlier than the expiration of the lease (if they choose to exercise the option),” he said.
Jones said he felt closing earlier would not be a problem.
“In my mind, the best thing is for them to exercise the option,” Brooks said.
The CDA approved a motion authorizing Rea to send a letter to Walmart’s attorney stating that the CDA is ready to close when Walmart is and allow them to close earlier than the end of the lease if they choose, provided all money is paid.
Rea said the Walmart option is the only matter currently before the CDA, but the members could choose to have the CDA become active in its purpose, which is commercial recruiting in Pell City.
CDA members said they plan to discuss it further at future meetings, and the members are expected to hold an organizational meeting and elect a chairman at the next meeting when all members can be present.
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