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WEDNESDAY, JUNE 22, 2005
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EDITORIAL

City Hall shows leadership in dealing with developers

Much hand wringing and gnashing of teeth went on in October when the new administration at City Hall didn't fall over its collective self to land a new shopping center.

Mayor Don Kyle was new to the job and so were three council members. And they hadn't even agreed on a budget for the year.

They rejected intense pressure to provide up to $5 million in incentives to bring the shopping center to Alabama 67 and U.S. 31.

They were called myopic. They didn't understand the competition among cities for this type development.

"Till we get a solid budget, there's no way we can discuss it," Mayor Kyle said of the project that was a carryover from the previous administration.

Meanwhile, the developer, John Graham of Atlanta, expressed interest in Wilson Morgan Park. Then a better deal for the park came along.

The mayor did as he promised. He took his time and made sure the project was good for Decatur.

Interest eventually turned back to the Alabama 67 and U.S. 31 site, and the mayor asked Mr. Graham for guarantees.

Apparently Tricore Partners will bring Target, Old Navy and others to the 26-acre site and the city will get its guarantees.

No city money will go into improving the infrastructure until the center is completed and 70 percent of retail space opens. And if sales fall below 45 percent of projections, Tricore will help make up the difference in the city's payment on the $4.75 million debt, which it will repay from new tax revenue the center generates.

Decatur badly needs the infusion of retail and restaurants. Target and Old Navy will take business away from current stores, but they and the restaurants will also keep many of our residents from shopping and eating in Madison and Huntsville.

The parties are yet to sign the agreement, but this is a major victory for the administration that went into office preaching a return to fiscal responsibility.

Perhaps, the mayor and council have taught all of us that incentives, both industrial and commercial, are subject to hard-nosed negotiations.

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