The Birmingham News

Business News

City allots $10 million for Roebuck Wal-Mart 


News staff writer

The Birmingham City Council approved a $10 million deal Tuesday that will bring a Wal-Mart Supercenter to Parkway East. 

The deal ensures the city will have at least one Wal-Mart store within its limits. Wal-Mart's efforts to assemble land for the store, however, have been slowed because its representatives have been unable to reach agreements with all property owners. 

Bob Rogers, a lawyer representing Wal-Mart, said about five or six landholders have not yet agreed on a price. He therefore couldn't say Tuesday when officials expect to build the store, which will be located on the site of a now-closed Kmart and an Old America Store on Parkway East. 

Angry landowners: 

In March, the council approved using the city's power of condemnation to move the deal along, a vote that angered several property owners in the area. The land needed for the store would require more than 30 parcels owned by more than 20 different landowners. 

Under the terms of the deal approved Tuesday, the city agrees to help Wal-Mart recover up to $10 million in land costs. Wal-Mart will buy the land for the store. When it opens, the city will refund 90 percent of its sales tax annually up to $10 million, which should take about 5 years, said Carol Clarke, chief administrative assistant to Birmingham Mayor Bernard Kincaid. 

After $10 million, the city will receive all of the sales tax, more than $2.3 million annually, Clarke said. 

A smaller Wal-Mart store in Huffman is set to close and the deal ensures that the city has at least one of the stores within its boundaries, Clarke said. The company has agreed to offer jobs to the 150 employees at the Huffman store. 

Councilman Joel Montgomery, the sole dissenting vote, objected because he said the city's threat of taking property sends the wrong message to smaller business owners in Birmingham. 

"If you come to the city, there's a possibility if someone larger comes, we can take your property," Montgomery said. "I do not have a problem with Wal-Mart. I have a problem with how we've gone about it." 

Councilwoman Carol Reynolds compared the deal to the state's successful efforts to recruit Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Hyundai. 

"We're talking about people coming to do business in the city of Birmingham," she said.