By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The dream for a 21st century, updated shopping center in Millington is coming to fruition.
What started as an idea from several minds in January 2015 has formed into the physical structure known as the Shoppes of Millington Farms.
As more tenants are moving into their stores nearing the scheduled Spring 2017 openings, residents of North Shelby County and South Tipton County are already flocking to the new shopping mecca of Millington.
With businesses in operation like Buffalo Wild Wings and Aspen Dental, the hard work of the Millington Industrial Development Board, the City of Millington, Shelby County and GMR Millington Farms, a general partnership subsidiary of Ryan Commercial Properties has been realized.
Recently Millington IDB President Charles Gulotta and Millington Mayor Terry Jones reflected on the journey to the Shoppes of Millington Farms and the potential businesses coming to Flag City.
“We were approached by Mr. Gil Ryan,” Gulotta recalled. “He’s the owner of Ryan’s Commercial Properties. He has a number of shopping centers in this region. And he stated that from his research Millington was reap for a new shopping center.
“He stated if we utilized the Tax Increment Finance Program, it could help him build a 135,000 square feet shopping center,” he continued. “He presented an economic game plan to the Industrial Board and the city and then to Shelby County. The economic impact plan had all the details, property taxes that would be generated, jobs, sales tax, economic activity. It was a very, very impressive plan. We thought it was very accurate. It was prepared by Younger Associates.”
A TIF Program can be define as a public financing method that is used as a subsidy for redevelopment, infrastructure and other community-improvement projects.
“Basically the TIF program and with the cooperation of the IDBC,” Gulotta said, “the City and the County allowed the IDB to borrow $3.8 million to pay for public infrastructure like power lines, sewer lines, development of the streets and utility development.
“Basically the loan would be paid back by the additional property taxes — real and personal property taxes on the land,” he added. “It’s called a non-recourse loan.”
A non-recourse debt is a type of loan secured by collateral, which is usually property. If the borrower defaults, the issuer can seize the collateral but cannot seek out the borrower for any further compensation, even if the collateral does not cover the full value of the defaulted amount.
“The loan will be paid off in anywhere from 13 to 15 years depending on whatever the tax rates are for the city and county in the future,” Gulotta noted. “Basically we borrowed the money from First Citizens Bank. Mr. Ryan borrowed the money to build his portion from First Citizens Bank.
“We need to give credit to First Citizens Bank,” he added. “They lent the money to the Industrial Development Board and they lent the money to Mr. Ryan. They looked very closely at the economical impact plan. They looked closely to the character of Mr. Ryan, the professionalism of the Industrial Development Board and the city. They all deserve credit.”
Jones said so many key players helped bring the Shoppes of Millington Farms to fruition including some assistance from a Millington native.
“Commissioner Terry Roland was a vital helper with the Shelby County Board of Commission,” the Mayor said. “It’s been a big feather in Charles’ cap to get this going. We’ve got approximately another 15 businesses about to open by the end of March, first of April. That’s good for Millington.”
Those businesses recruited by developer Gil Ryan are about to call Millington home this Spring. Those companies can express gratitude to several individuals who put in hard work during the planning phase.
This past summer it was finally time to put all the brainstorming into motion. This past July the city of Millington celebrated along with the County the groundbreaking for the Shoppes of Millington Farms.
“That was a huge step,” Jones said. “Because once you get to the groundbreaking that means the money has been set. The contracts have been set. That means everybody is ready to go. We had Buffalo Wild Wings saying they wanted to be open by the end of November. It turned out to be the first of December. So they were there everyday saying, ‘Hey, how are we doing as far as progress?’”
Motorist could monitor the progress on a regular basis off Highway 51 during the construction phase. They saw the 125,000 square-foot retail shopping development go from dirt to several buildings.
On the day of the groundbreaking ceremony, crews were already at work. Beams were going up and cement was being laid as Commissioners Terry Roland and Reginald Milton spoke to the guests at the event. Chairman Willie Brooks of the Shelby County Economic Development & Tourism Board was on hand.
Gulotta and Jones gave the floor to Nelson Williams, Community Bank president for First Citizens National Bank and Ryan. The men expressed how the Shoppes of Millington Farms would benefit the area financially.
According to an economic impact study by Younger Associates, “the construction of 125,000 square feet of retail property will have a one-time economic impact of more than $36.8 million dollars on the Shelby County economy and will generate about $368,201 ($165,960 in sales tax for the City and $114,895 in sales tax for the county with an additional $87,346 from other local tax revenues.
When retail operations are at full projected sales volumes, the annual local sales tax revenue generated is projected to be more than $808,143.
The retail operations will support a total of 484 direct and indirect jobs. The wages paid to these jobs will generate $928, 726 in new local tax revenues annually. The Shoppes of Millington Farms could bring possibly 500 jobs to the area.
Other signs of growth in Millington can be found just across the street with Hardee’s and Zaxby’s. Jones noted there are other areas of progress throughout Flag City.
“We’ve had a lot of food places open in Millington,” he said. “But now to have retail and along with some medical, that’s just huge.”
A Regional One urgent care clinic is opening along Highway 51 across from Kroger’s. The IDB’s work with the Millington Airport Authority has brought new business to the Millington Regional Jetport grounds.
“IDB has worked with Airport Authority to get Crew Training here and get Roadmaster Trucking here,” Gulotta noted. “We have been in contact with Silicon Ranch with solar farm. The Mayor has recently traveled to Nashville to meet about the Clean Line Energy.
“We’ve been involved in a lot of things this past year,” he added. “We don’t have the big factory on Veterans Parkway yet. That’s a big disappointed. But all of the smaller businesses are making it exciting to be here in Millington.”
Jones noted the Solar Farm and recent resiliency grant to help with the flood stage in Millington will strengthen the city’s relationship with the NSA Mid-South Activity Base.
“If you lower the flood stage, that helps lower insurance rates and making sure we don’t flood out the Base again,” he said. “You mention Silicon Ranch which is another big part of keeping the Base here. They’re going to have 10 mega watts of power to contribute directly to the Base.”
With a new source of energy for the Base, that will free up wattage for future companies on Veterans Parkway. With commercial properties growing in Millington, Jones and several officials in Millington want to see an increase in residential property.
“We’re talking to other developers right now about other projects that will be really, really good for us,” Jones said. “Talking with other developers, a lot of them have said, ‘If you can get that, maybe we can do this.’ So now we’re in negotiations with other developers. They said, ‘Hey, you’ve got some things going on out there. Maybe we’ll come on out that way too.’
“What we need to do for 2017 is get some roofs built here,” he continued. “We need to continue to work on the developers to get some new homes built. We add the new homes, our school system is coming up and we’re working on others things. So if we keep Charles busy working on things because this is a team effort. You’ve got to have the right people in the right places doing the right things. Thank God we’ve got Charles in the right place, doing the right things right now. ”