The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

July 31, 2013

And then there were three

L&S shopping center down to 3 tenants

By Kim West
kwest@athensnews-courier.com

ATHENS — Within two months, the house being rented adjacent to the former L&S Shopping Center could be the only tenant remaining on the county-owned site that occupies about 7 acres on North Jefferson Street.

Herbal Life, which is located on the front side of the building home to the former L&S Foodland, is the only business tenant remaining. AA Renacimiento, which is housed in the back of the south-side building, serves as a meeting place for a Hispanic Alcoholics Anonymous group.

The lease agreements for Herbal Life and the AA group expire Sept. 30, according to county officials. Stanley Menefee, chairman of the County Commission, said Tuesday county officials have made no decision whether to allow those tenants to extend their leases.

Menefee said he has approached city officials about the possibility of locating a building on the L&S site, but no decisions have been made about the type of building.

When reached for comment Monday, Mayor Ronnie Marks confirmed he was asked about using the site for a city building, but he said no details have been finalized at this time and the county and city have had no formal discussions. Also, he said any serious proposals would be brought to the City Council for consideration.

The county purchased the property in May 2012 for $525,000. It was formerly the site of a Fred’s store, barbershop, furniture store, beauty shop, restaurant and the L&S grocery store, which closed in September 2012 after 58 years.

The county previously planned to take down the Fred’s building that occupies the west side of the property earlier this year, but Menefee said those plans were pushed back because county workers are working on roadways. In January, the county razed two dilapidated rental houses and the restaurant on the north side of the shopping center parking lot.

“As far as I know, we’re still planning to take down the Fred’s building. Since we’re in the summer months, we’re getting into paving and that kind of work,” Menefee said. “We’ll probably look at taking it down sometime between December and February after the dry season is over.”

County officials previously said monthly rent is based on square footage, with Herbal Life paying $175, and the AA group $150. The county has no immediate plans to remove the remaining rental home, which has a $150 monthly rent.