Alabaster’s open season

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Opened just in time for the holiday shopping season, Alabaster’s newest retail development is already bringing in big bucks for the city in the form of fresh taxes, but older businesses might be cashing in on the project too, city officials say.

Feedback from business owners points to an increase in sales across the city, according to City Administrator Tony Rivera, an indicator that the 685,000 square-foot Colonial Promenade is attracting new customers to the area, not just redirecting the ones already there.

&8220;At least in the early returns, the old hardware stores, grocery stores and other businesses are seeing an increase,&8221; Rivera said.

Turning Alabaster into a more attractive shopping destination is not the only way the city’s newest businesses are sharing the wealth.

With retail juggernauts like Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, Books-A-Million, Belk and Old Navy, the Colonial Promenade could produce as much as $5 million per year in sales tax revenue, Rivera said.

Much of that will be realized during the holidays, the busiest time of the year in the retail industry.

And with new locations nearby, county residents don’t have to travel as far to do their Christmas shopping.

&8220;You have a lot less people having to make the commute to Hoover and that’s been a real economic boom for this community,&8221; said Cam Ward, director of the city’s Industrial Development Board.

Alabaster is also more convenient for many shoppers in rural areas like South Shelby, Bibb and Chilton counties, Ward said.

With plans already under way for an additional center on the opposite side of Highway 31 -Colonial Promenade South -Ward believes Alabaster is quickly becoming a top shopping destination.

&8220;People can get anything they need and go back home without having to fight a whole lot of traffic,&8221; Ward said. &8220;I think that’s a pretty big appeal.&8221;

City officials claim to be on the brink of announcing new tenants for the 450,000 square-foot project, planned to complement the Colonial Promenade.

&8220;It is going to feature the same kind of shopping as on the current side, with a focus on clothing and restaurants,&8221; Ward said. &8220;You can expect a lot more upscale dining.&8221;

Colonial Promenade South is expected to be completed by the end of next year