PIEDMONT — A proposed business that would cater to users of the Chief Ladiga Trail in Piedmont will be exempt from most taxes for five years, city leaders decided on Tuesday.
Pinhoti Properties, LLC, plans to use the savings realized from approximately $1.3 million in property and sales tax abatements to develop property on Main Street to hold multiple attractions, including a restaurant and park. The goal is to entice users of the trail to stop at the complex, then explore and shop at other nearby downtown businesses.
The Piedmont City Council approved the tax abatements during its regular council meeting on Tuesday.
The business proposal projects the development will create 35 jobs over the first three years of operation.
The business project includes a building on 103 South Main Street that once held a thrift store, and two acres of property that will be made into a park that includes a stage for music and other performances. The Ladiga, a 33-mile paved trail that stretches from the Georgia line into Anniston, runs through Piedmont and right past the Main Street building and adjoining property.
“Right now when you come into Piedmont on the trail, there’s nothing that gets you to stop,” said Kevin Cunningham of Pinhoti Properties. “If we can get people to stop at our place, we can hopefully get them to shop at other places here.”
Cunningham, whose wife is from Piedmont, said the plan is to have the park and stage open by the fall. Cunningham said he’s hoping to organize events in the park like barbeque competitions and car shows, and to let musicians and students from the city schools use the stage. Cunningham is also renovating two duplexes on the park property for hikers and bikers to rent.
Cunningham said he hopes to have the building fully renovated, complete with a restaurant and outdoors outfitting shop, by spring next year.
“I’m excited about it, the whole idea,” Mayor Bill Baker said of the development. “I think what they want to do will do a lot for Piedmont … I hope it’s contagious.”
Also during the meeting, the council agreed to lease the Bethune Community Center to the Cheaha Regional Head Start for $1 a year to house its programs. Cheaha Regional Head Start is a federally funded nonprofit that provides early childhood care and pre-kindergarten services to a six-county region in northeastern Alabama.
Kelly Mumper, director of Cheaha Head Start, has said the nonprofit needed a new Piedmont location because the modular buildings it was currently using were too old and too expensive to maintain.
“We appreciate your willingness to keep Head Start in Piedmont,” Baker said to Mumper at the meeting. “It’s all about the kids.”
During the meeting the council also reviewed the city’s annual audit, prepared by Kemps and Associates. The audit reported no findings in the city’s finances that needed correction.