HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — Looking ahead to 2020, Hoover looks to capitalize on big plans.
Mayor Frank Brocato said he has a lot of projects, both big and small, he is excited to work on next year, but perhaps the biggest takeaway from a conversation with CBS 42’s Alissa Rothermich was that plans are in the works for the former Sears at the Riverchase Galleria and just a year from now, things could look very different. The Galleria is one of the state’s most popular shopping destinations, but in October, Sears closed.
Brocato said the closure of the anchor store has opened the door for re-development. City officials are now doing a study and talking about turning the site into a performing arts center.
“That’s kind of a missing link that we don’t have in the city and that’s a wonderful opportunity to have somewhere for our great performances,” Brocato said.
There is a lot of energy surrounding that idea and a desire to make it quickly happen.
“I think you’re looking at something in the next 12-15 months,” he said. “It’s coming. We have an idea. We have the Galleria ownership excited about it.”
The city will also begin talks with the SEC in 2020, working to keep the annual baseball tournament in Hoover after the current contract expires in 2021. The tournament brings in anywhere from $15 million to $18 million per year with last year setting records for attendance.
“The last bid process was very competitive,” said Gene Hallman. “Nashville and Memphis, Jacksonville and New Orleans all submitted very aggressive bids so we’re not taking anything for granted.”
One way local leaders are working to solidify Hoover’s stamp on the tournament is to expand the youth baseball tournament that runs in conjunction with the SEC baseball championship. This year, 40-50 teams from the SEC footprint are expected to compete. The primary intent of this is to drive tourism and awareness for the SEC baseball tournament.
Traffic throughout the city is a hot-button issue for commuters. While the mayor admits easing the gridlock on Hwy. 280 is “a tough nut to crack,” Hoover does have a plan for the Highway 150 and I-459 corridor with a new interchange is now slated for South Shades Crest Road.
“We believe that will relieve traffic on South Shades Crest Road and Hwy. 150 as well as the Ross Bridge community that will help the entire western part of Hoover,” Brocato said.
The city has already purchased land and is now looking to purchase over 20 additional acres to make the interchange a reality.