Publix open

Curious onlookers kept a steady flow of vehicles driving past the new Publix Food & Pharmacy prior to its opening on October 14.

With its multi-million dollar expansion over the past year, Cullman Shopping Center has added several new retail slots — and now they’ve officially managed to fill them all.

With the recent grand opening of Publix and Dick’s Sporting Goods, developers note Cullman Shopping Center’s redevelopment has achieved a major landmark. The center, reopening with more than 400,000 square feet of retail, is now 100 percent leased.

The upcoming Ulta Cosmetics is tentatively set to open around Thanksgiving, while a JK Taylor clothing store is also in the works in a corner retail slot. The new anchor stores Publix, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ulta Cosmetics, Petsmart and Ross Dress for Less will join existing shops Books A Million and Belk as key components of the project.

With just a few weeks to gauge traffic data, developer Bill Leitner said the new stores are performing well above projections.

“Our market reaction to Publix and Dick's grand opening has greatly exceeded our expectations,” he said in a prepared statement. “We look forward to opening the remaining anchors over the next few months.”

Architecturally, a new façade, tower features, and curated landscape and hardscape package was part of the makeover. In addition, the existing center expanded by approximately 120,000 square feet.

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 city 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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