The city is close to finalizing the sale of a brownfield site downtown known colloquially as City Hall North.
The Mobile City Council, per its own rules, delayed a vote on the sale for at least one week. If approved, the building at 350 St. Joseph Street would be sold to developers for $548,000, which is the fair market value on the building, Brad Christensen, director of asset management, said.
Developers want to turn the old Seaman’s Hotel into combination apartments. Plans are currently for the building to house 67 apartments — a combination of one-bedroom studios as well as two-bedroom units, said Steve McNair, a historic preservation consultant.
Before the building can be renovated using both federal and state historic tax credits, McNair said remediation of the brownfield would have to take place. Developers would compete for the credits during the first part of 2018, he said.
The apartments will be spread among the building’s four floors, with a patio on the roof. Plans also call for a stand-alone coffee shop and a dog park, general contractor Michael Coumanis said.
This announcement comes about a week before another complex, Meridian At The Port, is scheduled to hold its own groundbreaking ceremony as another new living space downtown. That ceremony will be held next Wednesday, Aug. 16.
Developers also recently announced Merchants Plaza, which is a retail, commercial and residential complex in downtown, anchored by the renovation of the old Merchants National Bank building.
In other business, the council voted to extend the city’s contract with Carnival, making the city a port of call for the cruise line’s Fantasy ship until December 2018.
During his comments at the meeting, Mayor Sandy Stimpson announced a partnership with Auburn University that would bring 15 to 17 industrial and graphic design students to a city-owned building downtown.
The so-called “futures studio” will bring students, on a part-time basis at first, to the Fuse Factory to work on products for local businesses. Mobile native Randall Bartlett, post baccalaureate program chair, said students would come down for a few days over the next two semesters to work in Mobile. He said the goal is to make it a full-time program next year.
“We like Mobile because of the recent progressive attitude that exists in the city and we believe our design students can bring innovative solutions, which will bolster the forward thinking to an even greater level,” Bartlett said. “Our plan is to offer a unique educational experience by immersing our students in the culture that surrounds a particular problem and design a solution that fulfills a need.”