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City to review retail incentive package

By Michael Butler

The Tallassee City Council held a public meeting on Monday night to discuss an Ecomonic Development Grant Agreement to abate a portion of city sales tax revenues with Patton Plaza, LLC.

Tallassee Redevelopment Authority chairman Hank Golden spoke on the TRA's behalf of the proposal.

"A representative from Patton Plaza met with us last October about what could be done to generate revenue in that shopping center," Golden said. "It's been empty for a couple of years."

Patton Plaza Shopping Center was the home for Walmart and Winn Dixie for decades. Walmart relocated to a stand-alone location on Gilmer Avenue. Winn Dixie closed its Tallassee store.

Tractor Supply is interested in locating in the former Winn Dixie building. T-Fit has used a portion of Walmart's space.

"We're neophytes," Golden said. "We're new in negotiating any deals."

The City of Tallassee draws four percent from sales tax revenues. One percent is allocated to Tallassee City Schools. What percentage of the remaining three percent might be abated is to be determined.

"Tractor Supply is looking at a projection of $2 million (in sales) per year," said city councilman Bill Godwin, who serves as finance committee chair. "Two percent would be $40,000 per year to the developer."

The vacated space once used by Winn Dixie is 23,000 square feet. Golden said at least "half a $1 million" would be invested for renovations.

"Hank, I have no problem with this," city councilman Charles Blalock said. "It brings more retail into the city. Competition is good for the consumer."

The city held a public meeting last year discussing a similar option for tax breaks with a developer entertaining Marvin's about locating in Tallassee. Godwin noted that Marvin's offered about "90 percent" of the products already offered in Tallassee.

"Our proposal is not to canibalize existing businesses," Golden added. "There is some overlay. It's not significant. One of our TRA members sells feed. He voted for this."

Council member Heather Johnson talked about the Patton Plaza location. "It's repurposing facilities that are in desperate need of repurposing," she said.

The propoal is not yet complete for the council to review and potentially take action. A May 3 meeting will be held at 5:00 p.m. at City Hall to finalize the details.

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