By Alison James
Associate Editor

Coming soon to Opelika: 34,000 square feet of new businesses.
The city approved Tuesday an agreement with Terra Opelika, a subsidiary of Terra Equities, in reference to a major development underway by Allen Hawkins. The ordinance the city approved provides a financial incentive to Hawkins for the development in that Hawkins will collect 50 percent of the sales revenues collected by the city within the project, up $125,000, in a contract that is set for three years.
That $125,000 could be small potatoes, according to Hawkins, who projects a potential $13 million in total sales in the first year of operation alone.
“I see that, frankly, being a low end. I think there’s a very high ceiling,” Hawkins said.
City attorney Guy Gunter presented the ordinance.
“The city is at no risk,” Gunter said. “If businesses aren’t generating, the city doesn’t have to pay sales taxes over. But I think the city is optimistic it will produce significant sales taxes.
“It should be a significant economic benefit for the city.”
Hawkins anticipates having the development open by Labor Day of 2015. Thirteen businesses have already committed to the retail center, including Mattress Firm, Aspen Dental, Chipotle, Tazikis and Pizza 120. All businesses will be new to Opelika.
“It’s going to be my proudest product,” Hawkins said. “Retailers that I work with … they wanted to be here, and it was an opportunity. The timing happened to be perfect.”
The city also:
– held public hearings and approved resolutions in regards to weed abatements
– held first reading to amend the zoning ordinance for micro-breweries to include wine in the definition.
– granted a special use permit to T-Mobile at 900 Priester Road.
– approved annual contracts with the Lee County Rabies Officer and Greater Peace – CDC.