Retailer looking at downtown site
Flash Foods for
The Homerville City Council is negotiating with a convenience store and fast-food restaurant about locating in the city.
Flash Foods and McDonald's are in discussions with the city about purchasing a property across from the courthouse, where the current fire department and the downtown gazebo stand. At Thursday's regular monthly meeting of the council, the council approved having council member J.E. Witherspoon negotiate with the Jones Company (owner of Flash Foods) on behalf of the city.
According to City Manager ReKasa Deen, preliminary discussions have included the possibility of the retailer purchasing the land from West Dame Avenue to Plant Avenue, west of Smith Street, from the city and another land owner (Sharon Calley), and putting a Flash Foods and McDonald's combo there. Also proposed is that the buyer would move the fire station, or construct another one, at another location, and the gazebo would be moved as well. Deen said the fire station could be moved to land west of the Robbins Building (Senior Center) under such a scenario.
Discussions with the Jones Company about locating on this city property have been considered before – in the mid 2000s with previous Mayor Carol Chambers and the city council. Deen said that Witherspoon will speak with officials from the Jones Company about the matter, then return to the council with any offers or considerations.
In other action from the meeting, held at the Homerville Municipal Complex, the council:
• Heard a presentation on downtown investment.
Homerville Better Hometown Program Manager Jenny Robbins and real estate agents Carol Chambers and Roy Rhodes made the presentation, which focused on promotion of entrepreneurship and utilization of vacant storefronts in downtown Homerville.
The three said they have made the same presentation to other elected officials and had another meeting that evening on the matter.
Robbins said there are a good number of downtown buildings for sale in Homerville, and prospective owners have resources to make these properties more attractive. Chambers said downtown business owners can take advantage of a revolving loan fund, facade and design assistance grants, and, possibly, tax credits in the near future.
"We've been trying to convince folks that there are buildings and opportunities available in downtown Homerville," said Rhodes. "The only bad option for people who want to live in Homerville for a long time is to do nothing. Doing nothing and letting these buildings deteriorate lowers property values for everyone."
Witherspoon suggested the council look into extending the central business district so more businesses can take advantage of the opportunities presented.
• Discussed the city's alcoholic beverage ordinance.
Deen said that according to the city's ordinance, any more alcohol beverage licenses are prohibited. Council members said they will consider amending the ordinance at the next meeting.
• Approved a wage and salary survey to be turned in to the Department of Community Affairs.
• Approved a request for window tinting at the Huxford Spear Library.
Deen said the Huxford Society will pay for it, and that it is needed to protect books from exposure to sunlight.
• Approved amendments to the city's sign ordinance.
• Approved an intergovernmental agreement for the recreation park lighting project.
• Approved the city's financial report.
• Heard comments and concerns from Ouida Calley.
Calley said the city promised to put $1,000 in a fund for the upkeep of the Macy/Brance playground. She asked that the police patrol the area more often, as they have found trash and beer cans in the park.
Calley asked how city police officers are paid compared to other officers in the area. Deen said that according to a DCA survey, Homerville's police officers are "near the middle" in terms of salaries.
Calley, who operates a business downtown, then commented on Better Hometown Program Manager Jenny Robbins, saying "people don't know what her (Robbins') job is. People really don't know. All they know is she plants them bushes."
Witherspoon told Calley that Better Hometown is "an excellent program. A lot of businesses have profited from her knowledge. She (Robbins) is doing everything she can to sell Homerville."
Calley said citizens need to know what the Better Hometown Manager does and how much money she brings to the city.
"If we knew what she did, how many grants she got us, how much it cost us, then maybe more people would be willing to volunteer," Calley told council members.
Calley also suggested giving tax abatements to local property owners and businesses during tough economic times.