ALBERTA 6 YEARS LATER: RESIDENTS ARE BACK, AND THEY WANT BUSINESSES

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With 65 percent of the district destroyed and the area where most lives were lost, the Alberta area was undoubtedly the hardest hit on April 27, 2011.

Many have been impressed with residential progress in the area, but they’re also wondering why more businesses have not yet returned.

Several new community enhancements have gone up in Alberta, including the Alberta School of Performing Arts, the Gateway, a new police precinct and a new fire station, but that doesn’t help residents who want to get a bite eat.

District 5 Tuscaloosa City Councilman Kip Tyner said there are a few reasons for the lack of new retail and restaurants while lots sit vacant in the heart of Alberta along University Boulevard.

“People are trying to get rich over a tragedy,” Tyner said. “People are asking way more than their property is worth.”

And the roadblocks don’t end there, considering it’s been only a year and a half since the primary bridge into Alberta reopened.

“The Alberta bridge being replaced by ALDOT, that really held off development for a long time because retailers didn’t want to open prior to a main artery being cut off for their customers,” said Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama CEO Jim Page.

Page said it’s typical for businesses to lag behind residential rebuilding, and with more people moving to Alberta, the businesses will follow.

“One we get one or two really good retail type establishments there, that will make more opportunity for retail establishments to follow,” Page said.

Yourway Furniture is one Alberta business that’s already back. Owner Johnny Little said he agrees with Tyner, and waiting for the right kind of growth will be worthwhile.

“I think we are just scratching the surface here in Alberta,” Little said. “I think you’re seeing little things happen, and those little things turn into big things like the police department, the fire station. We didn’t have that out here, but we have it now. That’s going to entice more people to come.”

Fast food restaurants Shark’s and Dominoes are under construction in Alberta.

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