Mayor seeks funds for conference center
Record Managing Editor
Conventioneers may soon be able to choose Madison as a next conference site.
Mayor Jan Wells says she'd like to see the city purchase the Spencer Square shopping center on Madison Boulevard and convert the former Food World grocery store building into a conference center.
Wells, along with her aide, Michele Miller, recently traveled to the city Fairhope in Baldwin County to see how that city converted a former grocery store into a new conference center and city offices. The mayor said having a conference center near existing hotels along Madison Boulevard would complement the growing city.
"Madison simply doesn't have enough meeting space to hold large gatherings and purchasing the shopping center and converting the former Food World grocery store into a conference center would be an excellent opportunity to complete Madison as a city," Wells said.
Mayor Wells said she met with Fairhope Mayor Tim Kant and took a tour of the city's new conference center prior to the holidays.
"The building that was used in Fairhope was a lot older than the Food World building here in Madison, but the city did a wonderful job in converting it into a very nice conference center and city offices," Wells said. "The Food World building is roughly 45,000 square feet in size. That is a good-sized building to hold large conferences in."
Wells said the Tennessee Valley Authority has an entity that could help in figuring out what would need to be done to the Food World building to convert it into a conference center. She said she would also meet with conference-oriented officials to see what they look for in a conference center and what Madison would need to host future meetings.
Once the mayor gathers all of the necessary information about her plan, she will present it to the city council for its approval.