ALBANY, GA (WALB) - On Friday afternoon the final vote was taken to approve a proposal for 'The Flint' restaurant to begin construction in downtown Albany.
ADICA and the Downtown Development Authority moved forward with a DDA vote of four in favor, one against, and one abstention.
Entrepreneur Glenn Singfield said that he expects The Flint will seat 100 to 150 diners and will occupy an existing structure adjacent to the Pretoria Fields brewery. He also expects to employ 30 to 40 workers, mostly hourly employees.
The Flint is described as a seafood and southern, farm-to-table restaurant. The operators also own the popular Albany Fish Company, located in northwest Albany.
Before the Memorandum of Understanding (M.O.U.) was approved, concerns were raised that the deal would put too much burden on taxpayers.
That's because the contract provides that the restaurant owner can use the city-owned building as collateral to secure a large loan in order to make improvements and open the business. If the business fails, the taxpayers could lose the building to the bank.
Another question was raised during both board meetings. Phil Cannon, an ADICA board member, worried that other businesses moving downtown would perhaps perceive the financial structure of the deal as more favorable to Singfield.
DDA board member Bob Langstaff echoed those concerns and also wondered if other downtown business owners would feel "slighted".
The final agreed upon M.O.U. was the eighth version of the contract. Langstaff and Cannon, both attorneys by profession, wondered if returning to a prior version might be a better deal for taxpayers.
Despite the concerns, the final contract was approved by both the Albany Dougherty Inner City Authority and then the Downtown Development Authority.
Board members, those in favor and against, acknowledged that Singfield is a successful businessman with a great reputation who wants to see downtown Albany succeed.
Singfield is investing $200,000 in cash to open the restaurant. The city of Albany is investing $631,000. Singfield can take a loan with a bank against the building up to an additional $431,000, matching the city's investment.
In response to the concerns, Singfield said he is taking a big risk in an unknown market that has not yet shown it can support an evening dining destination.
"I think in order for us to get the momentum continuously going here in this city, it is going to take that kind of involvement and that kind of initiative in the city. I am very excited that ADICA and the Downtown Development Authority saw fit to approve this project. We are ready to move forward," said Singfield.
The Flint will be a full-service restaurant, with both daytime and evening hours. Singfield said there will also be valet parking available.
The restaurant could be open by September.