HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – Huntsville’s efforts to sell a corner of John Hunt Park for retail development have hit a major snag.
City Administrator John Hamilton said Huntsville recently parted ways with GBT Realty, its preferred developer for a 25-acre tract near the busy Airport Road-South Memorial Parkway intersection.
Nashville-based GBT had agreed to pay the city $8.2 million for the coveted site in July 2013 and announced plans for a 240,000-square-foot, mixed-use shopping center.
But after company officials sought changes to the contract terms and twice declined to sign the deal, Hamilton said, Mayor Tommy Battle decided to “end negotiations” with GBT and start talks with the developer that finished a close second in the original selection process. The city is now in early negotiations with Birmingham-based Merchants Retail Partners.
Sembler/Greenstone Properties of Atlanta was the other finalist following a months-long competitive bid process.
On Wednesday, Hamilton said Merchants Retail Partners seems “very, very interested” in buying the John Hunt Park land for a future shopping center. While the terms of any agreement have yet to be determined, the purchase price would likely be less than the $8.2 million originally offered by GBT.
Said Hamilton: “We remain very optimistic about the opportunity to bring new development to Memorial Parkway, and to do it in a way that directly contributes to investment in our park system that is so critical to our community’s quality-of-life.”
Also, 25 percent of sales taxes generated by the future shopping center will be earmarked for John Hunt Park upgrades and maintenance.
Other than John Hunt Park, the Rocket City is awash in positive retail news. Battle is expected to announce today that hunting, fishing and outdoor gear retailer Cabela’s will start construction this fall on an outdoor superstore near Bridge Street Town Centre. Cabela’s would anchor a new retail development on Governors West called Parkside Town Centre.