The city has long talked of bringing a retail shopping center to its 33-acre plot neighboring Walmart on the busy highway. Two previous proposals fell through because of financing issues, but a third development group approached the council in June about the land.
The Shopping Center Group LLC of Birmingham pitched a retail center including six junior anchor stores, 8,000 square feet for smaller shops, five outparcels, an amphitheater, temporary booths for events, community garden space and 860 parking spaces, among other amenities. The company asked for option on the land and about six months’ time to market it and gauge retailer interest.
“It’ll be a bi-party contract,” said company representative Gary Pharo at a council work session in June. “We’ll have a period of time to perform due diligence, such as subsoil testing, begin work with traffic engineers, take the architects a little further and work with the retailers. All this won’t be completed in six months, but we’ll have an idea of what the market’s telling us. If it’s not something we can pull off, you’ve got your land back. After the initial six months, we may need an additional six months to get leases signed, financing complete and to start construction.”
The council agreed to begin contract negotiations with The Shopping Center Group at the time, and in July asked Gilpin to review a proposed contract from the company.