Belk Deal Begets Scrutiny: The Answers To Your Questions

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - This Monday looks like Mondays feel.  But at Bridge Street, there's hope a new retailer will bring in sunnier times, driving traffic to businesses.

For now, there's a certain gloom surrounding the idea.  People don't understand why the city agreed to pay to move a Belk down the road.

It turns out, Belk at Bridge Street keeps the retailer in town.

Huntsville City Council Member Bill Kling explains, "Belk was going to leave Madison Square Mall.  From what I understand, there was a very strong chance they were going to relocate either in the city of Madison or elsewhere."

Still coaxing Belk to Bridge Street proved pricey.

The city will pay for $4 million dollars in infrastructural adjustments, like sewer and electric alterations.

Huntsville's Director of Economic Development Michelle Gilliam Jordan explains, "It's not really an incentive plan.  We're doing some infrastructure improvements to make the property right for this new retailer."

But you've got to watch these kind of deals, if you don't want the city to wind up underwater.

City officials are confident in the foundation of the deal though.  They believe they'll get all the money back and more.

Jordan says, "We feel that we'll see that back in sales tax revenue from sales at this new Belk."

Bringing in the customers will be big, but to keep people shopping, you've got to keep them working.

City officials don't believe the new Belk will lead to a huge job gain, but it could create a modest improvement.

Jordan points out, "Currently Madison Square Mall['s Belk], their square footage is about 72,000 square feet.  This new Belk will be 170,000 square feet."

So maybe the deal won't part all the clouds, but it will keep them from getting darker.

Kling says, "I think everyone would agree, it would have been a step backward for us if the Belk that was in Madison Square Mall, which was going to leave anyway, if they'd gone on out of town, we lose that revenue.  We lose the sales tax.  We lose the property tax."

City leaders say keeping all that in town may be a small victory after all.

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