(Updated) Cullman City Council approves sale of civic center for $3.1M

Cullman Civic Center, seen Sept. 9, 2019 (Nick Griffin for The Cullman Tribune)

Updated 9-10-19 at 11:45 a.m.

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman City Council on Monday night approved an ordinance allowing the sale of the Cullman Civic Center to Desperation Church. The City is selling the civic center at its appraised value of $3,125,500.

The sale will help fund the construction of the City’s new sports and events complex, where most of the events that take place at the civic center now will be hosted.

When the ordinance was presented for its first reading at the last council meeting, Cullman Parks, Recreation and Sports Tourism Executive Director Nathan Anderson told The Tribune, “Several years ago, when we started planning this sports and events complex, one of the things that we identified early on that was necessary was to consolidate the operations with the civic center and the new complex. It doesn’t make sense to run two large event centers like that simultaneously.

“When we purchased the Marvin’s property, we also at that same time had a new renter with Desperation Church, and they just fell in love with the civic center. And, as we’ve gotten closer to the point where we can get to the nuts and bolts of the design of this new complex, we realized that there’s a lot of interest from Desperation Church to acquire this property. So, we started discussion, and they had a lot of interest in purchasing it.”

The former Marvin’s store on Main Avenue Southwest is slated to become a multi-use sports and event venue that will also connect Heritage Park to the Cullman Wellness & Aquatic Center, Field of Miracles and Ingle Park, creating a multi-facility recreational corridor in southwest Cullman. The sale of the civic center will help fund the construction and operation of the new facility.

According to Anderson, “We had an appraisal on the property, and they gave us a full appraised value offer, and this will free us up to allocate staff necessary to run the new complex.  It’ll also free up overhead, as a 30,000-square-foot building is expensive to run. We’ll be able to allocate those expenses to go towards the expenses of the new complex; it’s a pretty significant down payment on a new complex, as well.”

Nancy Wright, daughter of former Cullman Mayor Robert McGukin, who spearheaded the effort to build a civic center in Cullman, addressed the council before the vote. The City had extended her family an offer to memorialize her father’s efforts, either at the site or at the new complex, and she thanked the council for that consideration. She also gave her approval for the new use that Desperation Church will make of the facility.

According to the ordinance, “Property is being purchased in ‘as is’ condition.”

According to Anderson, “The intentions of Desperation Church are to improve the site. Their plans consist of a multi-million-dollar renovation to the facility, so they will be making a lot of improvements to the building, outside and inside, which will be great for the area neighbors of that property, and great for the community.”

Desperation Church Pastor Andy Heis was present Monday night and addressed the council, expressing thankfulness for the opportunity to move his congregation into the facility, and talking about plans the church has for its use. He also invited Wright to attend the dedication of the facility, an invitation which she accepted.

After approving the sale, the council voted to move voting precincts that were at the Cullman Civic Center to the Donald E. Green Senior Center at 1625 Cleveland Ave. SW.

Other council business

The council approved several special event requests:

  • from Keith Peinhardt of Buettner Brothers Lumber Company to hold a Customer/Contractor Appreciation Day Sept. 20, 2019 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • from Sue Turner of Life Chain Cullman to hold the 16th Annual Cullman Life Chain Oct. 12, 2019 from 12:30-2 p.m. on the sidewalks along U.S. Highway 31 around the Cullman County Courthouse.
  • from Stephanie Wood of A21 to hold an event to raise awareness of human trafficking Oct. 19, 2019 from 8-11 a.m. on the sidewalks around the Cullman County Courthouse.
  • from Edith Smith to hold a car show to benefit Christmas Love of Cullman Nov. 9, 2019 from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. in Depot Park.

The council also approved requests from Chipotle Mexican Grill located at 1821 Cherokee Ave. SW and from Newk’s Eatery located at 410 Second Ave. NW, for restaurant alcohol licenses. Both establishments received favorable recommendations from the City of Cullman Alcohol Review Committee.

Additionally, the council approved a resolution to accept a FEMA grant to purchase 51 new radios for the Cullman Fire Rescue. The $255,000 grant will receive $12,000 in matching funds from the City.

The Cullman City Council meets on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 7 p.m. in the Cullman City Hall auditorium. The public is invited to attend.

See the full meeting here.

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Left to right are Nancy Wright, daughter of former Cullman Mayor Robert McGukin, Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs and Desperation Church Pastor Andy Heis. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

W.C. Mann