By Melanie Patterson
North Jefferson News
FULTONDALE — Fultondale for the past few years has been a bright spot economically in north Jefferson County. Mayor Jim Lowery sees no reason for that to change.
“I’m very optimistic about the future of our city as far as growth and development,” Lowery said. “That includes residential development, but I’m more excited about commercial development than I have been since the downturn of the economy.”
Lowery said he has met with several developers in the past two months, and they have given positive feedback about the Fultondale area and the city’s proximity to Interstate 22, which is being connected to Interstate 65 just south of Fultondale’s Walker Chapel exit.
“They’re interested in locating in an area that’s new and progressive,” he said.
Fultondale’s 2013 budget includes almost $12 million, where 75 percent of the revenue is from sales and lodging taxes. The city has $4 million in reserve.
For the future, Lowery said the city is preparing to put a formerly planned convention center and hotel back onto the drawing board.
Lowery said another positive move is that the city council will vote soon on rezoning the Glendale neighborhood from multi-family to commercial. He said there will be public hearings so residents and others can voice their opinions first.
“If we do that, I think we will see more development go into that area,” Lowery said. “No one has to move. Highway 31 is zoned commercial and people live there. It would give people a higher value on their property. We think it would open the doors for better use for the future.”
He added that the city is working to bring more restaurants to the city — particularly an Italian and seafood eatery — as well as other businesses.
“I know in our area we love to eat, but to get some businesses like Grabows and others like that, that are talking to us is exciting,” he said.
Grabows and Arrows is relocating and expanding in Fultondale to become more of a sporting goods store. “It means more employees and more people shopping in our city. The bottom line is tax money being brought into our city. Then you’re able to take that money and improve public safety, parks and streets. That’s what the economics of it are about.”