Stan Pate, perhaps the best-known developer in the Tuscaloosa area, was optimistic and forward-facing Thursday morning as crews worked to wrap up the demolition of the McFarland Mall on Skyland Boulevard.

Pate owns the property, which has long been in a state of disrepair, and began demolition in earnest last year alongside former District 7 Tuscaloosa City Councilwoman Sonya McKinstry, who was at the time seeking re-election to that seat with Pate's backing.

McKinstry narrowly lost the race to entrepreneur Cassius Lanier, though, then successfully challenged Lanier's original candidacy for office. In a lawsuit, McKinstry said Lanier, a convicted felon, was not legally allowed to hold office when he qualified to run for the council seat.

Although the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Parole pardoned Lanier for those offenses and restored his eligibility to hold office in April last year, Circuit Judge Robert Vance said Lanier was not legally able to hold office at the time of the election and nullified the results of the race.

A special election was held months later, and Lanier won again, this time by an even greater margin than during the general election.

Without McKinstry as a sure ally in the District 7 council seat, Pate's demolition stalled and little progress was made between last spring and Thursday morning, when Lanier and Pate were on site together as excavators tore into the mall's remaining buildings.

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Lanier and Pate called into the Steve & DC Show on 95.3 the Bear from the site of the demolition to discuss their new partnership and the bright future of the site.

"We're going to accomplish stuff working together," Pate told the radio hosts. "We've been known, both of us have been known to be fighters who work hard to get what we want and we've joined forces now, so watch out."

Lanier said "the sky's the limit" for the McFarland Mall site, and that Pate, the council and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox have the opportunity to work together to create something significant there.

"We just want a signature development in the community. I've told you before, I'd like to have a legacy project here," Pate said. "What I want is something that, when people come through Tuscaloosa, they want to stop and hopefully they want to stay."

Lanier called the mall site "the best property in Tuscaloosa" and promised to keep his eyes and mind open as he considers what will be best for that location.

Listen to the full interview with Steve, DC, Pate and Lanier below, and for more updates on the McFarland Mall site as they become available, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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