By Melanie Patterson
North Jefferson News
Gardendale Mayor Othell Phillips announced last week that two new eateries are slated to open in the city.
During his State of the City address Thursday at the Gardendale Civic Center, Phillips said Panera Bread will occupy the former Shoney’s site on Fieldstown Road.
Construction for Panera is set to begin this summer, he said.
Also, Dunkin’ Donuts is scheduled to open in the future McAdam Plaza that is planned for Fieldstown Road next to Waffle House.
The former tuxedo shop building was torn down last week to make way for the development. Phillips said the new plaza will also include another business to be announced within the next few weeks. In addition, the facility will have a 4,000-square-foot space for a “high-end” restaurant, he said.
At the future city center, which currently houses only Buffalo Wild Wings, Phillips said four developers are working on “scenarios” to develop at that site.
New businesses will be a big boost to city revenue, which Phillips said is already increasing.
Sales taxes collected in Gardendale topped $1 million in January; it was the most collected in one month in the city’s history, Phillips said.
“People are spending money locally,” he added. “I’m as confident as ever in the city’s financial status.”
Phillips was also pleased with the city’s status in a recent Alabama Policy Institute ranking. Of all 426 municipalities in Alabama, Gardendale placed 19 in overall business-friendly, 25 in economic vitality ranking and 7 in community allure.
“We’re the only city in north Jefferson County in the top 50 in those categories,” Phillips said.
The mayor also gave an overview of all city departments and their improvements, including new facilities for the police department; a new civic center director, Keith Mosley, and parks and recreation superintendent, Dale Hyche; property purchased on Tarrant Road for a future fire station; and $3.5 million secured in grant money for resurfacing roads and new traffic signals.
“We’re trying to bring the level of quality up in our city,” said Phillips, who pointed out that 27 new businesses opened in Gardendale in 2012.
The city does have areas that need improvement, however. Phillips has several goals for Gardendale. He wants to improve public education and enact changes that make Gardendale High School graduates want to move back to the city after college.
He also wants to increase the median household income by encouraging more professionals to move to Gardendale, saying businesses look at a city’s disposable income as a factor in deciding whether to locate there.
Phillips wants to develop a larger park and recreation facility, create an entertainment district in the city, implement measures to increase property values and more.
To complete those goals, Phillips said the city can not do it without the cooperation of its citizens.
“We (elected officials) don’t control everything,” he said. “It takes an entire community working together to move our city to the next level.”