HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The Huntsville City Council agreed to pay $650,000 to make a move to acquire JC Penney's portion of the mall. They basically paid out the remainder of the store's lease, clearing the way for the MidCity development to start to take shape. This means that Huntsville gains property rights to the site, which JCPenney will vacate in January.
"That sum was what it was appraised for. We didn't pay anything above appraised value," said Director of Urban Development Shane Davis.
The city will now put in the public infrastructure for the new development. The JCPenney site will become a road, one of the main entrances into the new MidCity development that will be where Madison Square Mall now sits.
"Both tenants, Sears and JCPenney, will be out by the end of January," said Davis. "People should start to see the mall come down sometime in February."
While council member Mark Russell again voiced concern about the city's funding part of the large project, Davis said it's what that part of Huntsville needs to grow.
"There have been no tenants within the mall for almost 4 months, other than the two anchors," he said. "University Drive is a critical corridor for us from a retail standpoint. We want to solidify that."
While leaders continue to negotiate with JCPenney to find a possible alternative location, it's still unclear whether the store will be leaving the area for good once it closes. Council member Bill Kling wished negotiators, "Godspeed."