If Amadeus Development Group’s vision comes to life, Alexander City residents could be dining out and working in high-paying jobs in the old Russell Corp. headquarters.
Andrew McGreer and David Robinette made a public presentation about the developer’s plans for the building and property it is in the process of acquiring from Alexander City. McGreer said Amadeus was planning a future for the development company and heard the plans to tear down the Russell Main Office when it inquired with city leaders a year ago about the possibility of restructuring the building.
“We were looking for a place to locate our headquarters,” McGreer said. “We said there is a way not to let (it be torn down). We were looking at building on the acreage that is being purchased.”
Now the company will make its headquarters on the second floor of what many know as the Mossy Oak side of the building.
McGreer and Robinette are no strangers to the area. McGreer said he moved to the area in 1995 and their partners are longtime Alexander City residents James Dodwell and Steve Fuller. None is a stranger to residential and commercial construction and development. Each of the partners has experience in various areas but are united to better Alexander City and believe their experience will be beneficial to all and the Russell Main Office.
“We want to develop new property in and around Alexander City and the Lake Martin area,” McGreer said. “I think we have some fresh ideas for the Russell Main Office.”
McGreer said the group has been studying the property and buildings for nearly a year completing environmental studies, feasibility studies and renderings along the way.
The front of the building will be refreshed but largely unchanged according to Amadeus’ renderings in Tuesday night’s city council meeting but the rear of the building will be transformed into two grand entrances with glass atrium and gable fronts.
“We want it to be a showcase opportunity for downtown Alexander City,” McGreer said. “The actual entrance is on the backside of the building. There is parking on that for the businesses.”
The front stairs will be renovated and McGreer said they have hopes of putting in memorabilia of Russell Corp in the central lobby on the second floor.
The remainder of the rear of the building will house store fronts, including one for a plumbing supplier with a large showroom creating as many as 18 jobs paying up to $16 per hour.
Robinette said he had spent hours inspecting the building coming up with possible ideas for its transformation.
“There is no telling what you would run into,” Robinette said. “There were tents, bedding and other stuff.”
Robinette said the lower floor is ideal for a restaurant because of the basement style. It will allow for a kitchen with its freezers and other equipment. The lower floor will also feature a banquet hall and space Robinette said is ideal for a doctor’s office or med spa.
Robinette said the developers will not be the proprietors of the possible restaurant.
“We are not going to be restaurant operators,” Robinette said. “This is just our vision.”
McGreer said Amadeus won’t be the only ones to occupy the second floor. He said many of the Russell corporate offices will be renovated to allow rentals to small businesses and those who might not have the large sum of money to sink into a building to start with. The group is hoping to rent to people who the Lake Martin Innovation Center can’t accept.
“We hope to continue on what the innovation center has started,” McGreer said. “They have limitations, we don’t.”
McGreer addressed why the city should transfer the building to the group and sell the property at a discount, which has been approved by the council.
“There is a major investment to make here,” McGreer said. “It’s no pennies. It’s hundreds of thousands, millions of dollars. It is an investment in our company but it is also an investment in Alexander City as well.”
McGreer said there is interest in the property across Central Boulevard facing Lee Street Amadeus is purchasing.
“We are really close with an organization,” McGreer said. “They are looking at about 180 jobs.”
Councilmembers were happy to see a willingness from the developers to help grow Alexander City.
“I like the vision,” councilmember Bobby Tapley said. “I like the idea of $12, $14, $16 an hour jobs.”
Councilmember Eric Brown said appreciates the risks Amadeus is willing to take with this venture based on his experience in a small business and appreciates the efforts to improve the quality of life.
“I am glad to see the Amadeus Group taking the risk to invest in our city,” Brown said.
McGreer said residents will see work on the Russell Main Office and everyone will be proud of what Amadeus will do.
“Construction should start pretty soon,” McGreer said. “I think it will be a great addition to the city.”