June 16, 2009
OPELIKA, Ala. (WTVM) - Opelika's City Council is giving the go-ahead to the private redevelopment of an old Coca-Cola plant. The council is also waiving about $20,000 in fees, and paying up to $40,000 dollars to pave additional parking for what will become the county's largest event center.
The historic charm of Downtown Opelika attracts many businesses to the area. That's exactly what compelled Lisa Beck to turn the old Coca-Cola plant into an event center. "We are going to keep the outside façade as original as possible, but inside its going to be sort of the neatest concept at least for this area," Lisa Beck, the redeveloper said.
The city's Economic Development Director is in support of the 33,000 square foot event center. "Events can be held such as wedding receptions, and meetings. In fact, it will have the largest floor space for an event in all of Lee County," Al Cook, the city's Economic Development Director said.
"It serves two purposes from the city's perspective. It brings people downtown. It's going to generate a lot more activity downtown. Plus it will fill up an empty building that's downtown," Cook added.
The owner of Heritage Gifts in downtown Opelika says she's excited about the prospect. "The asthetics are good, and it still has that old town charm that the Coca Cola Company is a part of," Barbara Patton said.
The Opelika City Council is optimistic about the plan. "If the people come, then I think the benefits to the city would be accrued by people going to other restaurants and other stores and shopping. So it ought to create a multiplier effect," said Eddie Smith, Opelika City Council President.