Group engineering city center entrance

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Engineers soon will begin designing an entrance to Alabaster’s proposed “city center” property off Alabama 119 and planning improvements to 11th Avenue Southwest leading to the Alabaster Senior Center and upcoming new city hall.

The Alabaster City Council voted during an Aug. 6 meeting to issue an engagement letter to the Engineering Design Group to begin design and engineering work on the two projects.

Several years ago, Alabaster purchased a 111-acre tract of land between Alabama 119 and Old Highway 31 with plans of eventually constructing a city center complex complete with new city facilities and surrounding businesses.

After the city purchased the property, the nationwide economic downturn prevented the city from moving forward with developing the property, said Ward 7 Councilman Tommy Ryals.

“The city center project is on hold, but we want to at least have access to the property,” Ryals said. Alabaster is looking to one day partner with businesses and developers to build the city center complex.

Ryals said the city recently swapped land with the Cheney Lime company and is negotiating with the Alabama Department of Transportation to obtain a small piece of property to allow the city to have access to the 111 acres from Alabama 119.

Ryals said the Engineering Design Group will work to design an entrance to the property near the railroad crossing in front of the Thompson Sixth Grade Center.

Although the city has no immediate plans to develop the city center property, which includes a lake, Ryals said the access road will allow the city to possibly turn the property into a temporary park.

“It’s a beautiful piece of property,” Ryals said, noting railroad tracks run through the eastern end of the property. “We are hoping to be able to create direct access to the property without having to cross the railroad tracks.”

The Engineering Design Group also will be designing improvements to 11th Avenue Southwest leading to Alabaster Senior Center. Crews soon will begin building a new City Hall building next to the Senior Center.