Alabaster poised for continued growth

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 5, 2005

The city of Alabaster is poised for more economic growth as it makes headway on a second major shopping center and the Alabaster Comprehensive Plan 2030: &uot;A City for Families! Planning for the Future!&uot;

The Alabaster Planning and Zoning Board recommended to the City Council last week that some 16 acres on Highway 31 across from the current Colonial Promenade shopping center be rezoned from municipal reserve to community business district.

The action was recommended to help clear the way for the new Colonial Promenade Alabaster South shopping center at the intersection of U.S. Highway 31 and Interstate 65.

The board also approved the adoption the city’s comprehensive zoning plan.

On Monday night, the Alabaster City Council held a public hearing and unanimously approved the issue of 2005 Series A taxable Bonds totalling some $12.54 million to pay for the purchase of the 16 acres for lease to the city’s Community Development Authority.

That land will then be leased to Colonial Trust Properties as part of the new shopping center project.

The council went on to set a public hearing for Oct. 17 on the comprehensive plan.

And it set a public hearing for Nov. 21 on the rezoning request for the new shopping center.

According to city officials, the second shopping center has the potential to generate up to $100 million in sales tax revenues for the city during the next 20 years.

Located across from the current 680,000-square-foot Colonial Promenade where Wal-Mart and other stores are now opening, the second shopping center will include 350,000 square feet with 11 outparcels.

The city previously spent $6.74 million to purchase the 16-plus acres from Brian and Janis Gordon for economic development.

An agreement with Colonial Properties Trust calls for the city of Alabaster to spend $4 million for infrastructure such as roads, acceleration and deceleration lanes, red lights, retention ponds, curbs, gutters, utilities and sewer.

According to the Comprehensive Plan recently approved by the Planning and Zoning Board and set for a public hearing by the council, the site of a city center would be located between Highway 119 and Old U.S. Highway 31 on a mountain behind Blockbuster and Burger King.

An artist rendering of that site shows an access road crossing a lake with a fountain, a commons area, library, town hall, police station, retail offices, condos and townhomes.

City Councilmember Tommy Ryals previously stated that the city center would include a city hall and library for certain.

He said the city is one of

several entities that could make use of the proposed city center site.

He indicated CityFest could be held there, and the site could also include a mixture of offices and residential space.

Joey Hester, senior planner with the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham, highlighted the comprehensive plan for the Planning and Zoning Board.

He pointed to the development of village centers, a cultural center making use of the old mill, sidewalks and greenways.

Hester said village centers are like Mountain Brook Village … more pedestrian-friendly with buildings right up to the street.

Hester agreed with comments from the audience that cities have come full circle now being designed for people instead of the automobile