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Commission looks for land purchase extension amidst Farm Center delays

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

The Chilton County Commission is looking to extend purchase contracts on three properties near Interstate 65, Exit 212 following delays with development of the Alabama Farm Center.

During a rare Friday evening meeting on Oct. 8, the commission unanimously approved asking their real estate team to negotiate a 60-day extension of the purchase contracts on property for future commercial development near the Alabama Farm Center.

Chilton County Commission chair Joseph Parnell said he asked the property owners: Sue Hope, Rex Littleton and Wade Connell, “if they would be willing, without any other earnest money, to give us a 60-day extension, and they said that they would.”

The commission had to act for an extension if it was not going to close on the property because the first of the properties had a closing date of Oct.11. The county attorney said he already had some documents drafted for the property owners to look at for the extension.

The property contracts are contingent “on a functional operating agreement with the (Alabama) Farmers Federation” for the Alabama Farm Center, which does not exist yet, Parnell said. The Alabama Farm Center would generate the traffic needed to make the commercial/ retail developments on the three properties under successful.

“There has been a lot of movement this week with the Farm Center, maybe some positive movement, but still not enough movement for me to advise this commission to move forward with purchasing that property,” Parnell said. “… We had a very productive meeting with the city, and we think we’ve resolved all of the issues that Alfa has put in place, except for the claw backs.”

He said earlier in the day on Oct. 8 Alfa leaders had been in meetings with the Chilton County Industrial Development Authority discussing the limited warranty deed, which gives the future site of the Alabama Farm Center to the Alabama Agriculture and Exhibition Center Cooperative District, if certain requirements are met.

The agreement required that the Alabama Farm Center to break ground within 12 months of Feb. 10, and have 350,000 square feet of buildings “under roof” in 24 months to retain ownership of the property.

Alfa has stated that with the long wait times for delivery on the buildings it would be ordering, meeting the 350,000 square feet of buildings requirement would not be possible within the timeframe. Parnell said an estimated delivery time had been quoted to Alfa as the end of 2023, if ordered right now.

“What we are trying to negotiate with them now is what a reasonable extension of time is,” Parnell said.

Information on what Alfa thinks it could do is expected to be provided to the city and the county as a part of reaching an agreement on setting new requirements and a new deadline.