Dick's Sporting Goods sign

Construction crews hoist the sign on the new Dick's Sporting Goods at Cullman Shopping Center Tuesday afternoon.

The new-look Cullman Shopping Center is beginning to take shape, as crews worked Tuesday with cranes to mount the sign on Dick’s Sporting Goods at the top of the new building to the south of the existing development.

The 50-year-old, U.S. Highway 31 development is currently anchored by Belk and Books-A-Million. Work is under way to fully renovate and restore the existing facilities, then expand the development with new construction on the back side behind the now-demolished Food World location. Once complete, the new work will increase total square footage to more than 325,000 square feet of retail space.

A 22,000 square-foot Ross Dress For Less and 10,000 square-foot Ulta Beauty are the latest announced additions, confirmed by developer Merchants Retail Partners (MRP). They join fellow new additions Publix, Dick’s Sporting Goods and PetSmart. The U.S. Department of Labor Career Center will also return to the center in a renovated 8,000 square-foot outparcel building.

Along with the new additions, crews with Nearen Construction are also actively working to rehab and renovate the existing buildings at the center.

Publix, Dicks Sporting Goods and Ulta Beauty are slated to open in late 2015, with Ross Dress For Less and PetSmart in early 2016. The Career Center will open by early summer 2015.

In addition to representing a major reinvestment in the north Cullman property, the Cullman Shopping Center project also marks the city’s first-ever foray into a retail tax-sharing agreement as part of the recruitment incentive package.

The council agreed to a tax-sharing agreement with Merchants Retail Partners (MRP) in 2013 worth up-to $6 million. Under the deal, businesses in the development will still pay sales tax, though the city will pay back some of those funds for a set period of time. The deal only affects city sales tax (1.75 percent) and does not include education taxes.

Current estimates show those amounts would total approximately $276,000 paid back via a portion of existing sales tax the first three years, with as much as $800,000 produced (and split) in the subsequent seven years from new development. The city also approved $1.8 million in infrastructure upgrades for the project in 2014.

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