GARDENDALE — There’s a new sign in town.
It is actually covering part of an old sign, and it’s a welcome sight for Gardendale residents.
In place of the “coming soon” promise on the Publix sign at the Northgate Shopping Center is a banner announcing a “community groundbreaking celebration.”
The city has been promising, and waiting on, the popular grocery store since 2008.
The Publix conversation has had all the ups and downs of a roller coaster, and the topic had become the subject of jokes in north Jefferson County. In April, the city of Fultondale hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for a new Aldi grocery store and announced it with a big sign stating, “coming sooner.”
“We’ve endured skepticism and jokes, even though we all knew we were working hard to make this happen,” said Gardendale City Council President Stan Hogeland in a press release earlier this month. He announced on July 1 during a council meeting that the project was finally moving forward, after five years of delays.
Spurring the momentum is the purchase of the property by Preferred Growth Properties (PGP), a subsidiary of Books-A-Million Inc. PGP bought the property from Century Retail.
At that time, the city of Gardendale had committed to loaning Century Retail $2.85 million for the development, which was to be repaid by the developer and which the city itself was borrowing.
However, the city will reportedly not have to loan PGP money in order to develop the property.
Also helping with the negotiations was Jack Fields of Gardendale, whom the city contracted in March as a facilitator to represent Gardendale in talks with the developer.
As the sign at the Northgate Shopping Center states, the groundbreaking ceremony set for July 30, 6:30-8:30 p.m., is meant to be a community-wide celebration.
The Greater Gardendale Chamber of Commerce is organizing the event, which will include live entertainment, food, children’s activities and more.