DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) — Decatur Mayor Don Kyle announced this week that the Sweetwater development project isn’t moving forward right now. The City of Decatur has been in negotiations for months to have a destination shopping area with a goal of opening in late 2014. Those plans are now postponed.
Kyle said at this point in time, the economy isn’t where it needs to be for retailers and restaurants to join the Sweetwater project. He admits he’s disappointed but he said it’s definitely not off the table.
Sweetwater is made up of a multi-million dollar project that includes a large retailer, hotel, and several restaurants. Kyle said that the situation with the destination retailer was “pretty strong.” That unnamed retailer was already committed to the project. “The big guy was ready to come,” he said. “But the others we needed wanted to wait until the big guy came out of the ground and was close to opening before they commit.”
The cash flow expectation didn’t fit the City’s timeline. “With a very tight operating budget, that we are under still and have been since 2009,” he said,”we dont have surplus funds that we can take from our operations and put to a new project like that waiting for new money to come it.”
Kyle believes restaurant chains and retailers knew sequestration and the possibility of government shutdown was coming. “They are going to be very cautious when they invest millions of dollars in a new site.”
He said he really does think the Sweetwater project will become reality, just not anytime soon.
“Sometimes when things don’t line up for every party in a transaction, the best deal is no deal.”
The shopping location would have gone near the interchange at Interstates 565 and 65. Kyle said he’s still planning on that location for the future.
The Mayor’s office released the following statement in reference to the project delay: “The City has been in negotiations for months to have a destination shopping area located in the City with a goal of opening in late 2014. That goal is not feasible at this point in time. We are confident that the economy is slowly improving which will eventually result in new retailers and restaurants coming to Decatur. However, with the national economy still sluggish, along with the impacts of sequestration and other events affecting our local retail sales and related revenues, it seems wise to evaluate further our goals and expectations.
Although we are disappointed at this point, important and foundational information has been collected that will make future projects more beneficial to the City. We view this as just a delay in bringing to the City commercial development that will one day be both exceptional in its aesthetics and its value to our area.
We will continue to strive to facilitate development in our City that has great potential and is ripe for development as the economy improves. We look forward to reaching that goal of bringing development to the City.”