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Williiamsburg Council - Dollar General: bigger and better

By ANDREA FURLONG

The City of Williamsburg could soon be the home of the first Dollar General superstore in the Midwest.

Matthew McQuillen, a representative of M and G Development, L.L.C., approached the Williamsburg City Council April 26, about his plans to build a 12,500 square foot store north of Keokuk County State Bank.

McQuillen estimated the store would be one third larger than the current Dollar General store located at 416 S. Highland St., and would employ approximately eight to 12 people, (about two more than the current store). The increased size would accommodate a larger selection of refrigerated and frozen goods and clothing.

McQuillen requested $40,000 of the city’s Tax Incremental Financing fund (TIF) toward construction and site development of the $1.2 million project before starting. He said there would need to be a lot of work and site development before building, and said the store would benefit the city by contributing to its tax base.

“Obviously (the current) store is doing well and they feel a superstore would work well in this area,” he said.

He estimated the superstore would generate at least $1.5 million in sales annually.

McQuillen pressed the council for an immediate decision, but council members responded with hesitation. Council member Martin Bunge said he believed local businesses should have first priority over TIF dollars and that the council may see some requests for TIF funds from local businesses before the fiscal year ends June 30.

 “I do know that your best economic development opportunities come from within the community, not from (outside) the community. Anything that we can do to help a business that’s here right now is worth considering,” he said.

Council member Theresa Phillips said if the council approved a TIF grant, she would rather award the $40,000 in increments over a three to four year period, than in one big lump sum.

Mayor Frank Murphy noted that the council has given TIF funds to some community businesses before, but only under certain terms and never in advance of construction. Murphy told McQuillen the council would need some time to consider the proposal before setting a new precedent.

 “We haven’t had any situations like this come forward. We welcome these type of proposals, but we can’t make that decision in one night,” he said.

In response to council members’ questions, McQuillen said the current Dollar General Store will close, whether a new one is built or not, since its location is prone to flood damage. He said he is not sure whether the store would be built in Williamsburg if the council did not award a TIF grant.

The council was expected to possibly rule on the issue at its meeting the evening of Monday, May 10.

CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTER

City public works director John Avery said pressure test results indicated that city water main was not the source of the water that has been draining onto the site of the Williamsburg Child Development Center. Avery said he believed the source is located on a private property adjacent to the site. The council approved VJ Engineering’s proposal to engineer a solution that would utilize tile under the site’s surface to direct the water to flow into the city’s storm sewer. The solution would involve removing the center’s sidewalk and approach to dig a trench.

City attorney Eric Tindal said he believed the project’s architect, Steve Trost, should be responsible for the cost to fix the water drainage. Upon the council’s approval, Tindal said he would notify Trost of the council’s opinion that he should pay for the drainage solution because he should have forseen the need for it.

IN OTHER BUSINESS

• The council approved accepting a $193,000 gift from the estate of Frances Parker, under the conditions that $50,000 will be set aside for reading materials and films for children for the Williamsburg Public Library and that the children’s reading room in the new public library will be named after George and Frances Parker. The rest of the funds will go toward construction of the new public library. 

• The council set a public hearing for the city’s budget amendment Monday, May 24, at 7:45 p.m.

UPDATED May 11, 2010 2:11 PM

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