City leaders in Northport have voted to explore selling a local community center to a private developer over the protests of their constituents, who were not allowed to speak before the vote was taken.

During their Monday night meeting, the five-member council unanimously voted to begin due diligence on the sale of the Northport Community Center on Park Street just off Lurleen Wallace Boulevard to the Beeker Property Group for $1.1 million.

No one from a large group of protestors was allowed to speak before the vote, which was taken after council president Jeff Hogg threatened to suspend the meeting and asked police to keep order inside City Hall.


Beeker was one of four developers to respond to the city's May 2023 Request for Proposals to purchase and build on the community center property.

Beeker's proposal was provided to the Thread and other local media outlets Monday morning.

The company is looking to build a mixed-used development combining first-floor restaurant or retail operations with second-floor residential spaces available for short- and long-term leasing.

On the same property, Beeker proposes developing a roughly 2,500 square-foot standalone coffeeshop. Their plan also includes a centralized outdoor green space they said would become a gathering place for the community.

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Their proposal explicitly states they do not have any current provisions or proposals for relocating the community center but would be open to being involved in those discussions.

They estimate their Park Street development could be open for business in three years.

Beeker is already responsible for successful developments in the area, including the fast-growing North Square shopping center that has brought Planet Fitness, the Marble Slab creamery, Papa Murphy's and more to the property just east of the Northport Civic Center.


The details of the proposal were not presented or discussed at the meeting and played second fiddle to the way Hogg and the rest of the council treated a crowd of citizens gathered to protest the vote Monday.

News about the potential sale of the community center spread like wildfire on Northport social media channels this weekend. Council president Hogg has argued that the Request for Proposals asking developers to submit potential plans for the park property was discussed and approved in an open meeting last month and people should not be surprised now that the council is considering those proposals, but that point is probably moot.

A contingent of residents who want to see the Community Center left alone as a gathering place for birthday parties, families reunions and other small-town events showed up Monday night and were told they would not be allowed to speak.

The city seemed to take the stance that only those who had signed up to address the council before the agenda was finalized in the middle of last week would be allowed to take the podium Monday. Since interest in this agenda item was only sparked over the weekend, no one had signed up to speak about it before that deadline.

Although the city has allowed people to sign up in person at meetings in the past, that was apparently not the case Monday. When protestors began to demand to be heard and explicitly asked the council to table to vote, Hogg threatened to suspend the meeting and told Northport Police officers to maintain order.


Hogg started to read notes he had prepared about the potential sale, but seemed to grow tired of being shouted at by angry constituents and called for a vote to tentatively award the bid to Beeker.

"I know there's a lot of misinformation that's being circulated and I've made some notes to help clarify--" Hogg said before someone in the audience protested. "OK, with that being said -- I'll just make a motion to approve. All right? You don't want information - you want to sit here and disrupt."

The hubbub begins around the 23:30 timestamp in the city's livestream of the meeting below.

Without allowing a single citizen to speak on the matter, all five members of the Northport City Council -- Christie Bobo, Woodrow Washington, Karl Wiggins, Jamie Dykes and Hogg -- unanimously voted to move forward, even as citizens in the audience held up handmade signs that read "Vote No."

As City Attorney Ron Davis noted before the vote, the resolution does not finalize the sale of the property to Beeker. It gives the company 180 days to exclusively market the property and see if they can land tenants according to their proposal.

After the vote, the council sped through the rest of the agenda and did not bring up the community center again before retreating into an executive session to reportedly go over legal matters not fit for discussion in a public meeting.

Stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread for updates on the property as they develop.

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