The former Kmart building is being divided into four tenant spaces by owner Fulton Improvements, LLC, and the sign would be for those four businesses.
Some of the board members have expressed a desire to hold firm on not making exceptions for any new non-conforming business signs until the building code is rewritten as part of the Envision Corinth 2040 comprehensive plan process.
The proposed sign would have replaced the existing Kmart sign. It was proposed to be approximately 366 square feet, far exceeding the maximum 135 square feet allowed by the city code.
The city’s board of adjustment took up the matter in a special meeting on Monday and had recommended approval. Attorney Bill Odom, representing the applicant, urged the Board of Aldermen to consider the benefits to the city through sales tax and employment. He also noted the changing retail environment.
It is “an issue of retail brick and mortar versus online virtual reality,” said Odom. “The virtual world is growing. The real world seems to be reducing in size.”
Harbor Freight Tools is expected to open in one of the store spaces in the coming week. Odom said the store will employ about 40, and another tenant, Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, will employ about 30. Annual sales is projected to be $4.5 million at Harbor Freight and $3.5 million at Ollie’s.
With two aldermen absent, Mayor Tommy Irwin cast the tie-breaking vote against in a 3-2 decision.
"To do this tonight would be wrong," he said, citing the Envision plan and the recent rejection of a variance for a large sign for Casabella’s Corinth Clearance Center.
Alderman Chip Wood said Tuesday’s rejection is consistent with the board’s recent sign decisions, including the board’s action on requests from the Southgate shopping center on Cass Street. He voted against with Alderman Ben Albarracin.
Alderman Mike Hopkins made the motion for approval of the variance with a second by Alderman J.C. Hill.