City council takes ‘first step’ towards city center hotel – The Andalousia Star-News

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Andalusia’s city council on Tuesday approved the conclusion of a development agreement with the aim of bringing a hotel to the city center of the city. The board also approved to go ahead with a grant application that would help fund a grand entrance to Andalusia’s high school from the highway. 29.

The first course of action involving the hotel was to declare the Timmerman Building, known locally as the First National Bank Building, as surplus, as well as the top two floors of the Andala Building, the building where Big Mike’s Steakhouse is located. The property must be declared surplus before it can be sold or rented.

The property was declared surplus by a unanimous vote of the council, which then discussed the passage of a resolution on a development agreement, which will involve the city of Andalusia, the county of Covington, the Capital Improvement Cooperative District, Big Mike’s and Wood Properties, who will develop the Boutique Hotel.

The deal provides for a limited accommodation tax rebate and property tax rebate for development, which city officials say would make the project viable.

“We’ve been working with the developer for two years, and we’re speaking through Big Mike’s,” City Clerk John Thompson said. “This resolution authorizes us to enter into a development agreement with the other parties and to start the project. This does not mean that the project is finished; this is only the start of the project.

The Covington County commission will also consider approval of the lodging tax rebate and possible property tax abatement at its January 11 meeting.

“At that point, the developer could go ahead with the architects and finalize the financing. This action tonight starts the process, ”said Thompson.

The council voted unanimously to approve the resolution of the development agreement.

“These are just the first steps in making this dream a reality,” said Mayor Earl Johnson. “The resolution allows us to enter the project with the other parties, but that doesn’t mean the project is finished. The next key step is for the Covington County Commission to also approve a similar resolution. “

The development agreement provides that all parties must approve the final architectural design so that the exterior appearance conforms to the historic character of the downtown area. The hotel will bear the mark of a nationally recognized company.

“This is one of the biggest things that has happened in Andalusia in many years,” Johnson said. “We were fortunate to announce last year the reallocation of the Prestwood building as part of a partnership agreement with CDG Engineering and Associates.

“This agreement, associated with this new one, will concern two of our oldest structures which have remained mostly empty for years,” he said. “It will also bring an indispensable asset to the city center: a first-class hotel. With these votes tonight, the board has shown that it is behind the projects, 110%. While there is still work to be done, you have helped put the project on the path to success.

Also during the meeting, the board approved the request for a Rebuild Alabama Act grant to help fund a “grand entrance” leading to the Andalusia high school campus, off the northern ring road.

Troy Hudson, president of Southern Engineering Solutions, presented a proposed plan to council that involved building a double entry and exit with a median of Henderson Street on the bypass or the MLK freeway. The plan includes improvements to the drainage and resurfacing of Henderson Street, as well as the high school campus as well as other intersection improvements such as lighting.

The total cost of the project is estimated at approximately $ 559,000. If the city is successful in its RAA grant application, this could provide $ 250,000 for costs with local funds needed for the remaining $ 309,000.

The board voted unanimously to go ahead with the RAA grant application. This is the second time the city has applied for the grant, and officials hope some of the changes to the plan will increase the city’s chances of securing the funds.

In other actions:

• The board approved the extension of a pandemic leave policy for employees who may need to be absent due to COVID-related illness.

• Council approved waste and waste reduction for two properties: 607 Riley St. and 629 Watson St.

The next council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, January 18, at 6 p.m. at City Hall. A working session precedes the meeting at 5:30 p.m. in the upstairs conference room. The public is invited to attend.

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