The Northport City Council voted unanimously Friday afternoon to provide sales and lodging tax rebates to a developer who is anticipated to bring a $5.3 million project to property on the corner of McFarland Boulevard and Trade Center Drive, next to the Northport Lowe's.

The project development agreement the city agreed to sign Friday says Northport will give sales tax and lodging tax rebates of up to $100,000 a year for 10 years if the developer, a company called The Bullseye @ 1871, LLC, builds qualifying businesses on the property there.

City Administrator Bruce Higginbotham said the limited liability company has subdivided 22,000 square feet of land into three parcels, two of which are expected to be developed into major projects.

To qualify for the sales tax rebates, the LLC will have to develop a restaurant or retail business that meets certain standards -- fast food joints, gas stations and convenience stores will not qualify.

For the lodging tax rebates, the developer will have to build a three-star hotel or better that is directly comparable to existing hotels in the area such as the Courtyard Marriott, the Hilton Garden Inn or higher-end locations such as the Hotel Indigo or the Embassy Suites. Motels with direct exterior access to rooms for rent would not qualify.

"By taking this step as a council, we show that we are in the market for new-to-market items here," City Councilman Jeff Hogg said. "We're not looking to incentivize fast food, we're not looking to incentivize gas stations."

City Council President Jay Logan said this isn't a guarantee that a major retailer and an upscale hotel are coming to Northport, as the developer could decide to forego the rebates and building something easier, but to qualify for any of the tax incentives, the LLC will have to meet the strict guidelines laid out in the agreement.

Still, Logan said he was confident this development and the rest of the 1871 concept next to Lowe's would become a "generational project" that transforms the economic landscape in the city.

The incentives agreement was universally endorsed by the members of the city council, Northport Mayor Donna Aaron and former mayor Bobby Herdon, who was the only citizen who spoke during the public hearing.

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