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City renews Retail Attractions contract

As part of its effort to attract more retailers, the Ada City Council renewed the city’s contract with the economic-development consulting firm Retail Attractions on Monday.

The council voted 4-1 to renew the contract for another year, with Councilman Bryan Morris casting the only “no” vote.

Morris said that he had voted against hiring Retail Attractions in 2016, when the original contract was presented to the council, and he would vote against renewing the contract this year.

“I’m not anti-retail,” he said. “It’s just I think there’s a better way to do it. This particular group has not convinced me that this is what’s best for Ada as far as moving us ahead and attracting retail.”

But Mayor Guy Sewell said he had probably worked more closely with Retail Attractions than other council members, and he was satisfied with the consultant’s work so far.

“I think the training and the tutoring we’ve received were well worth the money,” he said.

Sewell said the new contract reduces the scope of Retail Attraction’s services, which will suit the city’s needs better.

The city will pay Retail Attractions $3,000 per month, down from $4,000 a month in 2016, for its services. The reduced scope of the new contract accounts for the lower cost.

In addition to the monthly fee, the city will pay the consultant $750 for each trip to Ada at the city manager’s request.

The consultant’s services will include:

• Researching and updating Ada’s trade area market and potential for retail, office, residential mixed-use and other development. The consultant will also produce an annual report containing that information, as well as data concerning the city’s demographics and sales tax leakage.

• Preparing and updating a market summary/report to use in marketing key demographics and attributes of Ada’s trade area.

• Marketing the city to Retail Attractions’ network of commercial and residential developers, retail and corporate tenants, and national and regional developers.

• Assisting city staffers in devising economic-development incentives.

• Developing strategies for targeting retailers and restaurants to develop in Ada. The goal is to reduce sales tax leakage and draw consumers from outside Ada’s trade area.

The original contract required Retail Attractions owner and CEO, Rickey Hayes, to be on call at all times, regardless of how many times Hayes was available to visit Ada, said City Manager Cody Holcomb. He said the new contract does not include that requirement.

“When we looked how many of those trips there really were, we were able to negotiate down and then just do a per-trip charge,” he said. “So that would be one of the major changes.”

Holcomb said under the new contract, city officials and Retail Attractions will explore retail opportunities that might be a little more difficult to reach.

In other business, the council did not act on a request to rezone 426 E. Seventh St. from a one-family district to a two-family district, because developer CDC Holdings withdrew its request.

CDC Holdings, which had planned to put two shipping-container homes on that lot, did not give a reason for withdrawing the request, said the city’s public information director, Lisa Bratcher.
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