Athens developer plans shopping center

Ming Enterprises of Athens is planning to build an 18,000 square-foot retail shopping center between Jack’s and the Wal-mart shopping center on U.S. 31.

Manager Bill Ming said he wants Dollar Tree, which is already located in the Wal-mart shopping center, to anchor the new mall and attract five other tenants.

He is planning to invest $2.5 million in the center, which he anticipates will bring in $3 million in retail sales and 50 jobs. Based on those numbers, he believes the city will annually see $75,000 in additional sales tax, $25,000 in sales tax for the school bond and $6,700 in additional property tax.

“Dollar Tree has a new floor plan that is larger than its current store,” Ming said.

Ming also said he is asking the City of Hartselle to grant a $237,233 tax abatement over the next 10 years to help him recoup site preparation costs due to the large amount of muck on the land.

“What I’m asking is to abate the taxes above what the city is already receiving from the current Dollar Tree store,” Ming said.

Ming anticipated that it would take about five to seven years to recoup the cost of construction.

Department of Development Director Jeff Johnson, however, said the city council would have to change its current regulations on commercial development to allow for such an abatement.

City Attorney Larry Madison said any abatements granted would be “scrutinized” on a case-by-case basis.

“It would only be granted in such cases where there are unique circumstances of the development, such as soil conditions, contamination or other relevant factors that cause the project to incur extraordinary costs,” Madison said.

In the past, Johnson said the city only granted abatements based on infrastructure improvements that the city would receive at the end of construction. However, Ming’s abatement would be the first in which the city wouldn’t necessarily receive any improvements outside of increased tax revenues.

The council is scheduled to vote on both the rule changes and the tax abatement at its meeting Tuesday.

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