Developer asks city for retail incentives

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, September 22, 2010

John Tisdale on Tuesday asked the Andalusia City Council to approve an incentive package for developers which would allow developers to receive city sales tax revenue collected by retail businesses they bring to town.

In a letter from his Westgate Developers, Inc., to the council, Tisdale said he owns and leases more then 360,000 square feet of space, much of which is located in Andalusia. He asked that the city allow a developer to receive 100 percent of the city sales taxes collected for the first three years a new business was in business, and half of the city sales taxes in the fourth through 10th years. He asked for a similar agreement on qualified expansions, in which the developer would receive the same consideration for any margin of increased sales.

Tisdale said his request was that the city provide these benefits for any developer, but he particularly wanted the agreement approved, he said, because of interest he’s had in local property.

While addressing the council, he referenced “two large box” tenants interested in the old skating rink and two additional tenants interested in Westgate Plaza.

One of the prospects, he said, would bring 30 new retail jobs in the first quarter of 2011. He asked for an immediate answer so that he would be prepared to put together an offer for the prospect.

Tisdale said retail tenants require developers to modify property, and said he spent $1.6 million when Goody’s and Hibbetts located here. However, he said, national companies no longer are interested in renting space for a fixed amount, but seek deals in which they pay a percentage of retail sales to the property owner or manager.

Tisdale also said he is closing on property adjacent to Wal-Mart, where he expects to develop additional retail space.

The council took no action on his request.

Mayor Earl Johnson said he is supportive of initiatives to bring retail, but doesn’t believe the council should adopt a one size fits all approach. Decisions to waive sales taxes should take into consideration projected sales and the number of employees, he said.

In other business, the council:

• Declared city property located behind the Social Security office, a former sewerage treatment plant, surplus. The city will now accept bids for it.

• Agreed to support the Coterie Run for Kids.