Apartments could finally come

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 31, 2014

An announcement of a new apartment development is closer than ever, Mayor Earl Johnson told Andalusia Industrial Board members Friday.

“While we don’t have a contract yet, and not an announcement to make, I feel like we are in a very good position to make you aware, we are in serious negotiations with a developer for 160 units,” Johnson said.

“I feel like we have reached an agreement in principle,” he said.

Earlier this year, the IDB purchased the old Oil Supply building adjacent to the city’s fairground property on Hwy. 84.

As currently proposed, the project will take in that property, as well as part of the fairgrounds, with the IDB retaining ownership for future development of a four-acre parcel that abuts Hwy. 84.

“This will be an extremely marketable commercial site at that point,” he said. “There are any number of businesses that would like to be next door.”

The mayor said both the city animal shelter, and a practice field used for youth sports would have to be relocated.

In one previous proposal made to the city for apartments on Hwy. 84, the city agreed to guarantee rental. The new project does not include such a clause.

“These are market-based apartments,” he said. “Rent will be whatever the market is. There is no government connection.”

The proposed design includes a clubhouse and a pool.

Rick Clifton, who serves as the IDB’s attorney, said Johnson has been working this project for six or seven years.

“This is as close as we’ve come to notifying the board, hopefully, we’re right there for some action. The purpose of this meeting was to make you aware of that. Hopefully, at some point, we’ll reconvene a special meeting to take action on that.”

In an unrelated issue, the board also ratified the purchase of property at the recent property tax sale.

The city was notified just before the sale that property adjacent to the city’s Alatex property – originally part of that parcel – would be sold at auction.

It was an odd situation, Clifton said, because the city had negotiated with Gold Toe for it, but not able to acquire it. Among the issues was not being able to get a clear title.

The property was acquired for $7,500 at the tax sale – far less than the $75,000 to $80,000 offered in previous negotiations, Clifton said.

The owners have three years to redeem the property by paying all that the city has invested in it, plus interest. If that doesn’t happen, at the end of three years, the city will have clear title, he said.

Ed Short chairs the city IDB. Other board members at Friday’s meeting were Bill Rabren, Bill Bryant, Jim Smith, Beth Woodard, and Ward Taylor.