The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

October 9, 2013

Sweetwater development stalls

By Kim West

— The $1.3 billion Sweetwater development at the juncture of Interstate 65 and Highway 20 in a Decatur-annexed portion of Limestone County has stalled, according to Decatur officials.

In March, Decatur City Council voted 4-1 to approve $40 million in incentives for the retail and commercial proposed project spearheaded by Genesis USA of Nashville.

The development included an initial phase of 25 acres and 1.3 million of square footage for mixed-use development. Genesis USA officials describe the Highway 20 corridor surrounding the proposed site as “one of the most desirable and rapidly growing areas” in the U.S.

City officials had not confirmed businesses included in the development, but Genesis USA listed a $28 million Bass Pro Shops as the anchor retailer.

Decatur Mayor Don Kyle released a statement that confirmed the development would not be “feasible” in 2014 due to a “sluggish national economy” and the impact of “sequestration and other events affecting our local retail sales and related revenues.”

“(Decatur) has been in negotiations for months to have a destination shopping area located in the city, with a goal of opening in late 2014,” said Kyle. “We are confident that the economy is slowly improving, which will eventually result in new retailers and restaurants coming to Decatur.”

Earlier this year, Limestone County declined Decatur’s request to add $2 million in cash to the Sweetwater incentive package. However, county officials were considering ad valorem abatements for the project.

Commission Chairman Stanley Menefee said on Monday that he anticipated the Highway 20 corridor being developed at a later time due to its prime location and the improving local economy.