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Businesses like to locate on 31
Hartselle to see more than $4 million in development here

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com · 340-2469

HARTSELLE — Alabama 36 and Interstate 65 may be the area where Hartselle wants commercial growth.

But U.S. 31 is apparently the choice for developers. By year’s end, Hartselle will see more than $4 million in new development on U.S. 31.

This growth comes less than two years after a shopping center, Mexican restaurant and Blockbuster Video invested almost $1.5 million on U.S. 31.

Developers have announced plans for a Captain D’s, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Walgreens, automated carwash, fitness center and plaza, Guthrie’s chicken restaurant and Taco Bell.

City leaders have not estimated how much tax revenue the businesses will generate. Council President Kenny Thompson said it could be significant, pointing out that a lot of consumers travel U.S. 31.

The city’s Building Department is not surprised that businesses are choosing U.S. 31 over I-65.

“These are stand-alone businesses and they typically want to be in high density areas where the traffic is slower,” said Jeff Johnson of the Department of Development.

Take the Captain D’s, for example. Hartselle told the restaurant about property the city owns near Alabama 36 and I-65.

“They said they wanted to be on 31,” City Planner Jeremy Griffith said.

Added Johnson: “These restaurants do their homework and some would rather be in a central business district rather than at an interstate exchange.”

The largest of the developments is in the northwest corner of Alabama 36 and U.S. 31, where Copeland Properties of Knoxville is constructing Walgreens and O’Reilly Auto Parts.

The project totals nearly $2 million and will add 24,820 square feet of shopping space in Hartselle.

The development should take less than a year, said Mayor Dwight Tankersley, who owns the property where the 14,820-square-foot Walgreens is locating.

Workers have already razed the old shopping center next to his property for the 10,000-square-foot auto parts building and should have it constructed by summer.

Captain D’s is the only development using Hartselle’s commercial development incentive policy, which the previous administration adopted in August 2002.

The policy lets the city use future sales taxes from a new business to reimburse developers for infrastructure such as utilities and street improvements.

The council approved a package that will allow Captain D’s to use one-half of the new tax dollars the restaurant generates for up to five years to pay for the turn lanes, which will cost about $58,000.

The restaurant purchased a building permit in November and is locating on the old Southern Sales property next to Burger King.

None of the investors have talked about using the legislation that permits Hartselle to participate in certain commercial developments.

Voters passed the constitutional amendment in June 2005. This legislation lets Hartselle purchase, develop, lease and sell commercial property.

The council can issue revenue bonds tied to specific projects, and use sales taxes that those projects generate to retire the bonds.

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