By Donna Thornton/News Editor
Mum’s the word on what retailers and restaurants it will include, but work on the Rivertrace Development at the old Goodyear Golf Course site is underway. A groundbreaking ceremony was held Aug. 28 on what used to be the 7th green (or maybe the 8th) on the golf course.
The development will include 20 to 25 shops, with at least three “anchor” stores among them, John Abernathy of Blackwater Developments said. Because of confidentiality agreement with lease-holders, Abernathy said he can’t divulge which businesses already have committed to come to Gadsden.
He said the retailers usually make their own announcements, and he will be encouraging them to make those announcements soon.
Abernathy said he expects to see retailers open for business between May and June of next year.
“It’s going to come together quickly,” he said. The $30 million project is expected to create 100s of jobs, Abernathy said and will mean significant tax income for the city. While the groundbreaking was going on, heavy equipment was working on another part of the property, taking down some trees.
City of Gadsden Mayor Sherman Guyton said he was pleased to see the groundbreaking on a project that has been in the works about three years.
He said when the Grissom family purchased the old golf course property, he knew something good was come of it. Guyton said Wayne and Phillip Grissom put a lot of work into selected a developer for the project.
Wayne Grissom said a lot of hard work from a lot of people, including city officials, Blackwater personnel and Gadsden Commercial Development Authority Executive Director Lesa Obsorn, to get make the project happen.
Abernathy said Blackwater will develop about 27 acres of the property, and the Grissoms will retain some property. He said Grissom Honda will move to the East Gadsden location.
Both Guyton and Abernathy said a project of this sort in the current economy is a rare thing.
“Not too many places have groundbreakings for this kind of commercial development,” Guyton said.
Abernathy said about 10 national retailers have committed to the development. He said anchor stores have signed leases and smaller stores are following, as is normally the case in this kind of development.
“The big stores make the smaller ones want to come,” he said.
As to what stores are coming, no one who might have been in the know was talking.
“People keep asking me,” Guyton said. “I tell them I don’t know what it’s going to be but it’s going to be good.”
Blackwater also developed a number of Alabama commercial projects, including Northside Mall in Dothan and the Patton Creek development in Hoover, according to the company web site.