Andalusia city leaders come under fire for mansion purchase

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - There is no question the old Springdale Estate in Andalusia is in great shape, manicured lawns and inside? Move-in ready.

Springdale sits on 3 acres while the entire property is a little more than 4 acres and it's located right behind city hall.

Still, some wonder why city leaders felt the need to purchase the private home for $900,000.

"I don't know. I think they should have spent the money on something else," said Edna Robinson.

Barbara Simmons has mixed feelings saying 'when you put something on credit, you go into debt.'

"We could not afford to pass this opportunity up," said city clerk John Thompson.

That's what it comes down to says Thompson. Thompson admits the purchase will not create jobs, so there is no direct economic benefit but it could be used as an economic recruiting tool.

"We'll entertain guests and I'm already getting phone calls from people wanting to rent out the home," said Thompson.

The mansion deal isn't the only real estate venture the city has taken a chance on.

5 miles away there is a plot of land on Debro Hill overlooking the Conecuh River Valley. Andalusia invested $500,000 with a local private investment group. That group says it will build a 3-story high apartment complex. on the land.

"We've lost businesses because workers they couldn't find any place to live. There is a huge demand for this," Thompson said.

Dollar for dollar, Andalusia borrowed every bit of the half-million for the apartment project.

So where is the money coming from to buy Springdale?

Thompson says it will probably be a combination of bank loans, corporate sponsorships and grants. One key component of the deal is the city can pay for Springdale over a 5-year period.

"We envision a connecting trail in the back. It's a beautiful place," said Thompson.

"I'd have to see more of the city's finances before I can say I agree with the it," said Covington County resident Virginia Wiggins.

John Thompson sees the two investments as growing the local economy, others aren't so sure.

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