Video Mobile Seeing More First Time Retailers Enter Market

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By the end of this summer, Mobile will look a little different both by air, and on the ground as new retailers like Costco, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and others open up where empty lots once sat vacant. Meanwhile, not too far away — renovations have been made at Pinebrook to attract new shops, — that’s already helped to pull in the first Whole Foods to open up in Lower Alabama.  The grocer will be up and running in the fall.


Looking at the number of new building permits for new units, the spike is noticeable.

In 2013 there were just 36 unit requests. In 2014, that went up to 77. And so far in 2015, with 46 requests, the city is potentially on track to beat last year’s number.

“There are a number of new retailers that have come into the market which Mobile has just kind of gotten on the map,” said Merrill Thomas, a commercial broker in Mobile.

Thomas says a lot of it has to do with Airbus and Austal expanding. He tells us vacancy is fairly low, and there’s no sign that it’ll slow down.

“I don’t think this is a bubble at all,” said Thomas.

Thomas expects competition to drive even more business to Mobile, especially brands that have not entered the market.  And while the challenge is to keep business staying for the long term, the city says what is key, is keeping up with growth.

“I think Westwood is a good example, they’ve doubled in size, Pinebrook it’s a 1960s shopping center that has seen a dramatic improvement as well,” added Bryne.

And as far as which businesses pick Mobile, Bryne says, demand is currently driving which ones set up shop, so it may only be a matter of time before something you’ve been waiting comes to the area.

New Outdoor Store Field and Stream Opens in Mobile

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After nearly two months since the sign for the new Field and Stream store was installed, the store is now finally open. Inside you’ll find the latest in hunting and outdoor gear.

“So in Mobile there’s a community of hunting and fishing enthusiasts so it just makes sense,” said Chase McClain, Field and Stream.

This is the first ever Field and Stream store in Alabama. It’s a partnership with Dick’s Sporting Goods, which is located right next door. It now joins a handful of similar stores in the area.

“Competition, when there’s competition the customer wins,” said McClain.

While some have waited months for the doors to open, Mobile has waited longer to see developments that brought this store here.

“The trend in my opinion has been redevelopment of properties in the several years, and you’re now just starting to see some of the ground up developments,” said Pratt Thomas, Commercial Realtor.

It comes at a time when we see long standing staples like Sears leaving. But in its place Belk already plans to move in. A commercial realtor tells us retail space is a hot commodity especially along Airport Blvd. and near Downtown, so some are building.

“You see a CVS on one corner, then a Walgreens on the other, they tend to sometimes follow the leader, let one company take the risk, and then the other follow suit,” said Thomas.

The City of Mobile in the meantime has been working to incentivize new businesses and developers to consider some of its existing spaces. That may include mixed used developments. That’s where you would have residential on top and retail below.

“Places like New Orleans and Savannah you’ll see that trend in other places and other cities that we try to emulate and it works quite frankly,” said Laura Bryne, City of Mobile.

But what ultimately will help these businesses stay in town, and recruit competition will be consumer support. And for stores that often means getting creative to attract customers.

“Fly tying, to archery, to youth clinics, we offer classes to drive home the outdoors and beginning new traditions,” said McClain.

The store also has a special indoor archery range to test out bows. The grand opening kicks off this Thursday.

Locals and local scenery to be in Nicholas Cage film

Southern Alabama becoming a radar on Hollywood Filmmakers

ORANGE BEACH, AL – Hollywood is coming to Pleasure Island and some locals may see their faces on the big screen when the movie, USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage, is released.

Filming will take place at Battleship Park aboard the USS Alabama battleship and the USS Drum submarine, but filming is also planned in locations around Orange Beach.

Nicholas Cage is the lead actor in the movie and he will portray Capt. Charles McVay, commander of the ship.

According to Angela Bateman with the Orange Beach Recreation Department, filming will begin on June 19 in the Gulf two miles off of Orange Beach and last about a week. Crews will depart daily from 5579b96ddf97c.imageOutcast Charter Docks east of Perdido Pass.

The focus then turns to Wolf Bay, Bateman said, and will involve a plane in the water. She said crews plan to spend about a week there as well. Other sites around Orange Beach are also being considered for filming locations, she said.

“I’ve done casting for four weeks now and we have one week left of accepting talent,” Suzanne Massingill of Barefoot Model & Talent agency. “We’re looking for people to play sailors, some people to play some captains and we need a pool shark, a guy that can really play pool.”

One local, Ed Delmore III, the retail manager for the City of Gulf Shores, is a strong candidate to play one of the sailors, Massingill said. His dad, Ed Delmore Jr., is the police chief of Gulf Shores.

“There’s a guy they are going to book named Ed Delmore there,” she said. “I’m pretty sure he’s going to get a role. Ed had to audition for the part.”

Massingill is still looking to fill speaking roles and anyone interested should send information

“I’m looking for actual actors with snapshots and videos,” she said. The scheduled release date for the film is Memorial Day weekend in 2016.

Mayor Tony Kennon of Orange Beach said some facilities, equipment and services already in place were attractive to the movie makers.

“From what I understand they are to be doing a lot of the water scenes because of the clarity of the water, the support network we have and the abilities with the boats that we have to get it done for them,” Kennon said. “They may be doing, from what I understand, some things on land with our fire tower and things of that nature as far as a prop.”

The USS Indianapolis was sunk by Japanese torpedoes on July 30 1945 after delivering the world’s first atomic bomb to the island of Tinian on July 26 of 1945, according to a website dedicated to the ship, She was then ordered to Leyte Gulf in the Philippines and while on route there was struck by the torpedoes.

Of the more than 1,100 men on board only about 900 made it into the water. Of that 900 only 317 were finally rescued.

The fact that Navy officials were unaware of the sinking left those in the water undetected for four days and they suffered heavy losses to shark attacks. A PV-1 Ventura Bomber on submarine patrol accidently discovered the survivors floating in the water about four days after the sinking.

A PBY Catalina flying boat eventually made it to the scene and put out supplies, lifeboats and took as many on board as possible until the destroyer USS Cecil Doyle arrived on the scene.

According to the website it is considered the U.S. Navy’s worst at-sea disaster.

Mayor Stimpson launches committees for Mobile’s first long range plan

MOBILE, Ala. – Mayor Stimpson is gathering an outreach and advisory committee composed of community leaders to launch Mobile’s first long range plan.

The Outreach Committee will act as a sounding board for consultants and will include a wide variety of community stakeholders. The Advisory Committee will provide feedback on the plan and ensure alignment with existing community and economic development plans.

The new plan titled “A Map for Mobile: A Framework for Growth” will incorporate preexisting plans and identify the gaps in community planning. It will address land use capacity, transportation, natural resources, community facilities, parks and open spaces, economic development, housing and infrastructure.

This is the first time a long range plan has encompassed all areas of the city and the first time in 20 years a comprehensive plan has been conducted in Mobile.

Over the next 8 months, Mayor Stimpson will gather citizens’ best ideas for Mobile through neighborhood meetings, community workshops and an online portal.

“The purpose of this plan is to shape the long-term vision of the community and use it as a guide for future development in the city,” said Mayor Stimpson. “What sets this apart from other plans is not only its inclusiveness of One Mobile, but that this plan won’t be strewn aside following its completion. Unlike other city plans that never see fruition, this plan will become a reality.”

All citizens are invited to a community workshop (date TBD) to share their ideas on the future of Mobile. The location is TBD.

Advisory Committee
Bill Sisson, Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce; Alan H. Turner II, United Way;
Roger Wehner, Mobile Airport Authority; Mobile City Council President Gina Gregory;
Mobile County Commission President Connie Hudson; Mobile Convention and Visitors President Al Hutchinson; Alabama State Port Authority, Jimmy Lyons; Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, Roberta Swann; Mobile County Public School System, Martha Peek; University of South Alabama , Tony Waldrop; University of Mobile, Dr. Mark Foley; Spring Hill College, Rev. Gregory F. Lucey; 100 Black Men, Marlon Jones; Point Clear Holdings, James E. Buckalew; Alabama Power, Mike Saxon; MAWSS, Mr. Charles Hyland; Mobile Gas, Mr. Mike Fine; Downtown Mobile Alliance, Elizabeth Stevens; Coastal AL Partnership, Wiley Blankenship; Mobile Co. Advisory Board of the Disabled, Michael Davis; U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Joseph Snowden; Food Bank, Col. Dave Reaney; U.S. Corps of Engineers, Col. John Chytka; Mobile Works, Sydney Raine; Mobile Housing Board, Dwayne Vaughan; Mobile Area Education Foundation, Carolyn Akers

Outreach Committee
Terrance Smith, Mobile Area Education Foundation; Raymond Bell,Bell Law Firm, PC; Joel Erdmann, Ph.D., University of South Alabama Athletics; Kelly Warren, Mobile County Health Department; Casi Callaway, Mobile Baykeeper; Sam Winter, Sam Winter & Co. Real Estate; Cameron Weavil, The Weavil Company; Bob Sain, Centre for the Living Arts; Robin Hanes, Outback Ministry; Kate Carver, Dumas Wesley Center; Dr. Kathy H. Thompson, Bishop State Community College; Kevin Harrison, SARPC Transportation Planning Department; Kesshia Davis, Mobile Gas; Leida Javier-Ferrell, Hispanic American Business Association; David Jack, C-Spire; Jeff DeQuattro, Delta Bike Project/The Nature Conversancy; Toni Ann Coumanis Torrans, Penelope House; Ron Ali, NAACP; Marian Clarke, N. Monterey Street Association; Makeda Nichols, State Farm Insurance; Mary Stevenson, District 2 CAG; Brent Barkin, Regency Oaks Neighborhood Association; Linda St. John, Village of Spring Hill; Debi Foster, The Peninsula of Mobile; Rev. Freddie Peterson;M. Pratt Thomas, Jr. Merrill P. Thomas Co., Inc.; Bryan Lee, Ridgefield Neighborhood Association; Vickie Lewis, Maysville Community Action Group; Gary Hart, Hillsdale Neighborhood Association; Melvin Howard, Homeland Security; Adline Clarke, State Representative; John Cebron Russell, Jr., St. John’s United Methodist Church; Bragg Van Antwerp, Mitchell, McLeod, Pugh & Williams Inc.; Manoj Annyarumbhatla, Resident; Tommy Sheffield, Mobile County Public School System.

First look: Historic Dauphin Street structures getting $3M mixed-use makeover

commercial-expansion-mobile-alRenovations of the long-vacant properties at 358 and 360 Dauphin St. directly across from Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Mobile are slated for completion – and occupancy – by the close of 2015.

The $3 million revitalization project is the brainchild of Colin Ayres, chairman and chief executive officer of Ayres Lightweight Panel Systems, and the Australian businessman called the seven-year venture a true “labor of love.”

Once completed, the multi-structure development will boast an upscale restaurant or wine bar as well as professional office space on the ground levels and a total of eight high-end condominiums on the second and third floors.

The completed condos – including two one-bedroom units and six two-bedroom units – will offer stunning views of the cathedral and Mobile skyline with several units boasting private rooftop patios.

“When these are finished, they’re going to be sensational. I just loved everything about this building from the get-go, and now I’m finally seeing it turn in to that something special without losing any of the history or charm that made me fall in love in the first place. It’s a truly remarkable project,” Ayres said.

Work-life balance

358 Dauphin Rendering.jpgRenovations of the long-vacant properties at 358 and 360 Dauphin St. directly across from Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Mobile are slated for completion – and occupancy – by the close of 2015. (Courtesy Merrill P. Thomas Co. Inc.)

Meanwhile, leasing agent Pratt Thomas with Merrill P. Thomas Co. Inc. is actively seeking tenants for the ground-level commercial spaces, one of which Ayres envisions being a restaurant given its existing infrastructure and location. That roughly 2,500 square feet on the first floor of 360 Dauphin also boasts a sizeable, brick- and wrought iron-accented courtyard fronting Dauphin that Ayres imagines capturing overflow patrons from the future restaurant in what he already calls “Jazz Alley”.

“There is no question it could attract a quality crowd and become a true asset to the city,” Ayres said.

Thomas is also seeking as many as five professional office tenants for the first floor of the adjacent 358 Dauphin, and Ayres provided a brief tour of that structure’s basement which formerly housed a piano bar and was a rumored speakeasy at one point that local lore contends was once connected to the cathedral by a tunnel. (Click here to enjoy Ayres’ brief guided tour.)