In addition to changing the face of downtown’s shopping options, the revitalized Cullman Shopping Center is also set to shake-up the traffic flow on the north side of town once new shops like Publix and Dick’s Sporting Goods formally open in the coming weeks.
Dick’s held a soft opening a few days ago, which has served as an early test for the new layout.
The major addition to the shopping center faces U.S. Highway 31, and features Dick’s Sporting Goods, Publix grocery store and Ulta beauty store. The new addition connect to the older addition, which actually faces north to make way for the existing parking lot.
As for how the city plans to handle the traffic flow: The new additions to the center will facilitate two new entry-points into the development, along with the improvement of the main, existing intersection.
A new driveway entrance and exit has been added directly in front of the Publix, while an access road has also been added to the south side of the addition to feed traffic onto Katherine Street directly beside the Publix. The existing main entrance in the center of the development, which include a traffic signal, has also been streamlined in an effort to allow traffic to move in a more efficient manner.
Work is also underway to improve the flow of traffic on the northwest side of the center, between the existing Books A Million store and newcomer PetSmart. That entrance has historically been a mishmash of lanes, bleeding into broken concrete and parking spaces. Now, that entire side is being repaved and redesigned in an effort to make it easier for shoppers to enter and exit. This aspect also leaves room for additional development to the north of the traffic signal.
Though the new stores will obviously bring an influx of traffic to Cullman Shopping Center, officials hope the redesigned layout and additional exits might actually improve the overall traffic flow at the development.
The older parts of the Cullman retail development have already received a facelift, construction is well underway, and now new signage has been installed around a stone facade to announce the several new additions.
Dick’s Sporting Goods is set to open Friday, while progress is moving rapidly on the Publix grocery store and Ulta beauty shop that will sit beside it. Crews are also working around the clock to revamp the old JC Penney location, which will house a new Ross department store. PetSmart is reportedly being built on the north side of the center.
The 50-year-old, U.S. Highway 31 development is currently anchored by Belk and Books-A-Million. 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, while the U.S. Department of Labor Career Center has also returned to the center in a renovated 8,000 square-foot outparcel building. Ross Dress For Less and PetSmart will open in early 2016.
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.
‰ Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 134.