City leaders say Sweetwater will rise in some form - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

City leaders say Sweetwater will rise in some form

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Economic issues lessened the promise of "a sure thing." Economic issues lessened the promise of "a sure thing."
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DECATUR, AL (WAFF) -

Decatur's mayor said the city's Sweetwater real estate development project – or something like it – will rise again, eventually. City leaders acknowledged Thursday that the billion-dollar project was effectively dead.

City leaders said sequestration and a spread of economic and financial issues made the project fall short of being a "sure thing" just far enough, that it fell through altogether.

The project was supposed to be an almost $1.5 billion complex of restaurants, shops, a hotel and several major anchor stores. Making it happen would have required major spending on site improvements by the City of Decatur, meaning major borrowing.

But in the past few months, some of the anchor stores became slow in committing to the project. They've been worried whether their sales would be strong enough in a weak economy in an area getting bruised by sequestration.

The promise of the money they'd bring in had been part of the conditions under which the city was going to do its borrowing, so it is back to the drawing board.

Mayor Don Kyle said the location at the southwest corner of I-65 and 565 is too perfect a gem to not bring a nice prize eventually.

"It's the largest single piece of acreage that's totally undeveloped on the I-65 corridor from start to finish. It is a very attractive piece of ground because a developer like we've been dealing with can basically come in and shape a small community within a community. There's no restrictions, there's nothing to build around, there's nothing to tear down," Kyle said.

Kyle said uncertainty about the economy, the government shutdown, and Obamacare itself add up to a climate that's hostile to development because it makes business too nervous to invest in big plans. He said the location where Sweetwater was going to go remains a compelling place to do a lot of business, and its time is going to come.

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