By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
If you’ve been waiting for Publix to open its long-awaited supermarket in Gardendale, circle this date on your calendar: March 27, 2014.
That’s the day that Bob Madden, the CEO of developer Century Retail, says the new store will open to the public, ending a succession of changing dates on a sign at the property that was finally changed to a generic “Coming Soon.”
Madden told the Gardendale City Council in its pre-meeting work session Monday that differences have finally been ironed out between his company and Dollar Tree, which had filed legal motions over delays in the project in Jefferson Circuit Court.
In that legal action, Dollar Tree alleged that the developer owed more than $600,000 in late fees because of delays, and withheld rent in protest. Century then declared their lease to be terminated, setting off a chain of legal proceedings.
Madden said that his company and Dollar Tree have reached a verbal agreement, which will become a written agreement within days.
That agreement will finally allow the shopping center currently known as Northgate Village, which was once home to Walmart and now has a Hobby Lobby store as its largest tenant, to undergo a complete renovation.
The first phase of the project would involve reconstruction at the south end of the main strip of stores, where a Subway sandwich shop and several independent stores were located. That will be the new home for Dollar Tree, Shoe Department at T.J. Maxx, with work to begin on Feb. 22.
Once that part is finished, the stores would move in in late May over a 30-day period. Then when those stores move, the part that once housed Dollar Tree, Goody’s and part of Shoe Department will be razed to make way for the new Publix store.
Construction of the supermarket is scheduled to begin on July 15, with opening about eight months later.
The new center will also have room for small locally-based retailers.
Madden also said that the dilapidated sign for the center on Fieldstown Road — one of the first things people often see when entering Gardendale from Interstate 65, and a source of complaints by many residents — would be repaired.
“We’re in the process of fixing the existing sign temporarily, and we have bids out for a brand new sign that will be in place when Dollar Tree opens,” Madden told the council.
Madden also said that Hobby Lobby had signed a new five-year lease extension, and that his company had made repairs to its roof.
The council also saw plans by a Hoover-based fitness club operator who wants to open a new location in vacant space that’s part of the new Public Safety Center, just feet away from where the council was sitting.
24e Fitness showed plans for a new 24-hour fitness center, which would fill the empty space once occupied by the old Food World market. Charles Grellier, president of Chase Commercial Properties, said that the club would like to occupy that space for an 18,370-square foot facility, and would be willing to sign a seven-year lease at $6 per square foot.
In return, club owners asked for a city development loan for $250,000, which would be paid back as an add-on to the monthly lease payment, with an $80,000 balloon payment at the end of the term.
24e also sought an allowance for bringing the empty space up to so-called “white box” conditions, something the landlord — in this case, the city — would normally do to prepare for a tenant. Grellier said that it would be more beneficial for them to do that work instead of the city, since they would have to tear out about half of that work for their own purposes.
Grellier said that club would like to start work on the facility in June, with lease payments starting next December.
24e currently operates a club on Montgomery Highway in Hoover.
The city also operates a fitness club within the Civic Center, which might be in competition to the proposed club.