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Like city leaders before them, council candidates call for Haysland Square revitalization

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - For more than 15 years Haysland Square Shopping Center in South Huntsville has seen a retail exodus.

Empty storefronts and parking spots have come to be expected.

"It needs some things," said Linn Brannon, an Arab resident who often travels into South Huntsville to shop and eat with his wife. "It'd be nice to have a little more selection, in restaurants especially"

South Huntsville resident Dee Murphy didn't sparse words, "[It's an] urban jungle, ugly, empty, not appealing whatsoever."

Another shopper said it gave the image that South Huntsville wasn't productive.

For years city leaders have been battling this image when it comes to the Haysland Square shopping center. Councilman John Olshefksi made revitalization a priority in 2011, and current District 3 city council candidates Jennie Robinson and Walt Hennessee have made it their campaign focus.

According to commercial real estate broker Scott McLain, who served as broker for the property, the project is out of their hands.

"Government doesn't decide where stores go," said McLain. "The power right now is housed in the land owner, the land tenant, and then you have the retail market in our community in 2014 that plays a large part too."

Haysland Square is in limbo. The land is under lease for another 9 years, but most major developers will not even think of signing with a property if their lease has less than 10 years.

Either the land owners have to wait until the lease runs out or buy it out before they can begin revitalization projects.

Hennessee has proposed the city buy out the lease via tax increment financing (TIF), a method used to subsidize redevelopment and community-improvement projects.

In the meantime, the property owners are in talks with several developers about future plans.

With another major South Memorial Parkway overpass project in the works, Robinson says the city could also use the the next few years to court businesses while construction is underway.

McLain says the future of Haysland Square could be bright, but it's going to take some time before residents will see positive change.

 

3 comments

  • Thunderball

    The private developers allowed Haysland Sq. to deteriorate and taxpayers should not bail out their mistakes. Do not trust real estate broker Hennessee to be objective in this case.

  • Ray

    Well, 9 yrs to let a shopping center to stay vacant is a pretty long time. I am sure something can be worked out to speed up the turnover to have it redeveloped. Sitting mostly mty for the past 25 yrs doesnt help the tax base or jobs..

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