MADISON, AL (WAFF) - City and state leaders joined developers in Madison on Tuesday morning to announce a new district that will bring jobs to the area.
The groundbreaking celebrated the creation of Town Madison, a district including more than 700 acres of land from Wall Triana Boulevard to Zierdt Road, along Interstate 565.
Leaders expect this venture to bring more than 800,000 square feet of new retail, restaurants and entertainment space along with 700,000 square feet of office space and 700 new hotel rooms.
The total investment for this project is estimated to be more than $400 million and is expected to create 1,600 new jobs.
"These jobs that are created are just as important as the jobs that we create from any major manufacturing company that we get in the State of Alabama," said Governor Robert Bentley.
Chief developer Louis Breland and Gov. Bentley shared the stage at Tuesday's announcement. Breland is a major contributor to Bentley's re-election campaign, donating $25,000 to the governor about a year ago. The governor said that connection had no influence on the project's go-ahead, after local leaders struggled to get it started.
"I didn't know how much money he'd given me. We're interested in creating jobs for the people of this state. I can assure you that my administration never, ever looks at the connection between campaign contributions and what I try to do for the people of the State of Alabama," Bentley said.
Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong said the development will be an economic engine for Madison County that will bring new restaurants and stores to the community.
"This development will transform this area and bring new revenue to our local schools and governments," said Strong. "This project shows what can happen when local governments join together in partnership to help grow our economy."
Town Madison is projected to produce $1.8 million per year in sales tax dollars to be split between Huntsville, Madison, and Madison County schools.
Dr. Dee Fowler, Superintendent of Madison City Schools, said a lot of resident tax dollars leave the city and go to other communities because of purchases at larger stores Madison doesn't have. He said that trend will change with the development of this complex, and he already has a good idea of where those new tax dollars will go.
"We'll use that money for additional teachers, for additional buildings, and anything the Board of Education sees to make schools better for our students," said Dr. Fowler.
Developers did not say which stores will move into Town Madison. Residents in neighboring subdivisions are concerned about what the development might bring.
Madison city leaders said there will be plenty of time for residents to weigh in and potentially influence some aspects of the development.
Four different owners will take charge of the project, which could be developed at different times. According to the key developer, The Sembler Company, Town Madison will include new businesses to the area and existing businesses.
Madison Mayor Troy Trulock said work will begin immediately on infrastructure for the development. That includes an interchange and a possible overpass.
"We have businesses that are already lining up for this," Trulock said. "They realize this is prime property right along I-565. They know this is the best place to put a business. They're excited, but we have to put the roads in first."
That work will take 12 to 24 months and businesses will move in immediately once that work is complete.