City considers partnership with Alabama Power to expand retail development

Published 3:02 pm Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Scott Walls with Alabama Power Company spoke to the Chelsea City Council during a pre-council meeting Jan. 12 about a potential partnership aimed at increasing the city's retail development in the coming years. (File)

Scott Walls with Alabama Power Company spoke to the Chelsea City Council during a pre-council meeting Jan. 12 about a potential partnership aimed at increasing the city’s retail development in the coming years. (File)


CHELSEA – Increasing retail development in Chelsea has been a topic of much discussion for months among city leaders, who learned about another potential resource the city could utilize in its efforts to move local development forward.

During a pre-council meeting on Jan. 12, Mayor Earl Niven and the Chelsea City Council listened to a presentation from Commercial Account Manager Scott Walls with Alabama Power Company regarding a proposed partnership aimed at helping the city expand its retail development base.

“We are interested in retail development,” Niven said. “What we do in developing business and light industry is going to affect Alabama Power and Mr. Walls. This is a partnership.”

Walls said he could provide demographical information, cluster maps, gap analysis and networking with contractors, investment bankers and civil engineers in the Birmingham area for Chelsea, at no cost to the city.

“I want Chelsea to do as good as it can do,” Walls said. “We (at Alabama Power) also need and want that increased growth just like everybody else does. We’ve got all those poles and wires out there.”

In 2015, Charles Branch with Birmingham-based retail advisory firm Retail Strategies spoke to the council during a March 17 pre-council meeting about ways the firm could help Chelsea market itself to retailers, provide more jobs, increase tax revenue and improve the overall quality of life for the city’s more than 10,000 residents.

The council listened to yet another presentation during a Dec. 1 pre-council meeting about Xceligent, a commercial real estate information provider. Shelley Shores, director of client services and sales for Xceligent, explained the company’s services and demonstrated how to view property listings with a website tool.

City leaders have also discussed options with The Retail Coach, another retail recruitment consulting firm.

Walls said Alabama Power could still partner with Chelsea in its retail expansion efforts, even if the city also chooses to hire another firm.

“I’m not here trying to compete with anybody,” Walls said. “I want you to get what you want to get. I want to be a part of your team even if you get someone else.”

Walls has worked with Alabama Power for eight years and previously has worked in banking and financial markets.

Alabama Power has always been involved in industrial development, but realized nearly a year ago that its focus on commercial growth needed bolstering, according to Walls.

“It’s a huge part of our market,” Walls said. “What we’ve realized is you can’t wait for stuff to come.”

Niven urged the council to consider the potential partnership, and invited Walls to come back to continue the discussion.

“We’re proud of where we are, but the future is in front of us,” Niven said, adding the city will mark its 20th anniversary in March.

Walls noted increased sales tax revenue and more “things to do” are common goals of communities now.

“Your area has things that are naturally attractive,” Walls said. “You’ve got things other cities do not have. There’s not an area you couldn’t improve on if you want to improve on it.”