MADISON, Ala. - Economic development continues in Madison and soon you will be seeing the fruit of the labor, Mayor Paul Finley said Wednesday.
"It's a great time in Madison," he explained. "It is extremely busy."
The big project on everyone's minds: the movie theater, Cineplanet 15. It is located down Hughes Road just beyond the 72 intersection, and it is nearly ready for its debut. But the theater will not open this weekend.
"Memorial Day weekend is a big movie weekend. We've had weekly meetings with [the owners] to get it open, and they're just not quite there," Finley said of the timeline. "I think folks will see-- 1, 2, 3 weeks out-- that cinema open."
Finley looks forward to Madison's first movie theater opening, because he said that is a chance for Madison residents to see a movie without driving into the next town.
The movie theater is approaching its premiere date after a long construction window, delayed by lawsuits. They included court action between the developer Rainbow Cinemas and Huntsville-based Consolidated Construction Co. of Alabama, a contractor. The project’s developer since hired Fite Building Co. of Decatur to do the work.
Hughes Road Kroger site
The old Kroger space on Hughes Road is still vacant, though. Kroger moved across town, leaving the plaza nearly empty.
Finley said the owners are working on something, but they need to approach the city with their decision on what to do there.
"I think folks will see something soon come through our planning commission," he explained. "There are multiple options-- everything from putting new tenants in there, to tearing it down."
Finley could not confirm which way the owners were leaning, but tenants say their landlords indicated demolition is imminent. Lisa House, owner of Salon Elite, said she is preparing to relocate in the coming months.
There is good news for those following the Fresh Market project though. It is planned for the site where the former Star Market was.
Finley said after Fresh Market was acquired by a new owner, the Madison construction was on hold. Now, it's back on.
"They will still be here," he assured. "It will probably be at the end of the year."
County Line Road
Madison is also refreshing its focus on County Line Road, the site of many road improvements over the past year.
"It is growing as we thought it would when we built a road that could take the traffic on the front end," he said. "We have a lot more down the pipeline. They will come in the next few months. But we are starting to have discussion."
Finley explained a Wendy's is on the way, and the planning commission recently approved an IGA with a gas station.
"We're going to continue to see that, and strip centers that are built nicely but have the services type businesses that Madison residents want," he said.
Now, the challenge is to keep the infrastructure ahead of this growth.
"Management of growth is our primary issue. So many cities wish they had that problem," Finley commented. "We are working on what Madison still needs, but also what we need to make bigger, better, stronger."
He cited parks, green space, and roads as big issues for the city to continue to tackle.