Council agreement will foster retail at old Covington Mall

Published 12:49 pm Friday, May 20, 2022

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The Andalusia City Council this week approved a partial sales tax rebate for up to six new, nationally-known retail tenants at the Covington Mall expected to generate 150 jobs and $18 million in annual retail sales.

Amendment 725 to the Constitution of Alabama 1901 authorizes certain municipalities in Covington County, including Andalusia, to participate in economic development.

City Administrator John Thompson said a similar agreement was approved in early 2020, when the owners of the Covington Mall, LLC, brothers Michael and Shaun Jackson, were on the brink of making announcements about major retailers. However, those plans were postponed by the pandemic.

“Their tenacity has paid off,” Thompson said. “They were in the final stages of lease negotiations, and this is the final piece of those negotiations.”

According to the agreement, the City will rebate 3 percent of the sales taxes collected for the largest retailers for five years, and 2 percent of the sales taxes collected by the smaller retailers for five years. The rebate will be payable to Covington Mall, LLC, to help offset its development cost in preparing for the retailers. Local sales taxes are 3.5 percent, and state law prohibits the abatement or rebate of the half-cent sales tax earmarked for education.

Mayor Earl Johnson encouraged council members to support the agreement.

“We are basically getting nothing in sales taxes from what we all know as the Covington Mall at this time,” he said. “This development will generate substantial sales taxes, increased ad valorem taxes and new business licenses.”

A formal announcement of the retailers planning to locate here is expected this summer.

“Covington Mall, LLC has done a terrific job staying with this project and putting these businesses together.  This is in the final phases and with this [the development agreement] all of the leases should fall into place,” Thompson said.

The mayor said the project will present a whole new look for that area of the city.

“This will be a very nice, new facility in our city that will be the first thing a lot of people see when they come to town. We’ve had people talking to us for years about doing something [about the property]. Well, here is our opportunity to do something. The parking lot will be completely repaved and landscaped. New lighting is already in place. When this project is complete, it will put a whole new face on that side of town,” Johnson said.