Our loss, Cullman’s gain?
Now wet, city finds itself newly attractive to developers
Once the largest dry city in the state, Cullman is seeing increased interests from developers on the heels of its decision to legalize alcohol sales.
In an interview with the Cullman Times, developer Greg Smith, president of the Smith Company, said he’s received multiple calls from developers after Cullman voters OK’d alcohol sales. Smith was involved with the opening of a Bojangles restaurant in Cullman earlier this year and owns about 15 additional acres he wants to develop.
In the interview, Smith said the reaction to Cullman’s legalization of alcohol sales has been “very positive.”
“I would say that within less than a week after the vote I received 15 calls from 15 different businesses interested in Cullman. We have a lot of interest and I’m working to turn this into a positive for Cullman,” Smith told the Times.
Future plans include bringing in a hotel and grocery store development.
Cullman voters approved alcohol sales 52 percent to 48 percent last month.
According to Mayor Max Townson, legalized alcohol sales has already been a “shot in the arm” to Cullman.
“Even before the vote, we had people stopping in here,” Townson said. “Developers think Cullman has great potential. We’ve had calls from Atlanta, from different food groups, from everywhere.”
Hartselle and Priceville voters rejected legalized alcohol sales, with Priceville’s efforts failing by only four votes. Both cities are sandwiched between two wet cities – Cullman and Decatur – both with interstate exits that are prime sites for retail development. Priceville shares an exit with Decatur and benefits from the proximity, but Hartselle’s two interstate exits don’t have that luxury.
That can make it harder to attract business here.
“It does put us at a disadvantage in marketing our city,” Mayor Dwight Tankersley said. “It (not selling alcohol) is another thing you have to overcome when you are recruiting a business. For example, if that company has selling alcohol as an integral part of its business plan, whether it’s a restaurant or a retail store, then it makes it that much more difficult.”
Cullman has hosted a series of public meetings to draft an alcohol ordinance.
Since the vote was a close one, Townson said its now up to city leaders to show they “have the best interest of the people at heart.”
Townson said he has met with officials from the Alcoholic Beverage Control board and is pursuing bringing an ABC store to Cullman. They have also provided information on alcohol laws.
City officials have said they favor a strict ordinance and have looked at Athens, Arab and Fort Payne for ideas in drafting their own ordinances.