A groundbreaking ceremony on Monday, Sept. 25, attracted Mayor Sandy Stimpson and other city leaders to the historic Blue Bird Hardware & Seed Store property at 2724 Old Shell Road in Mobile. The building will be restored as close to its 1950s appearance as possible while being updated and made functional for modern-day use, according to Jay O’Brien with J. L. O’Brien & Associates Inc., which is managing development of the property.

McNair Historical Preservation has been involved with keeping the historical aspects of the building intact. One example is creating new signage that is an exact replica of original advertising for the hardware store, according to O’Brien.

“We have multiple suites available for lease and are currently talking to restaurant, retail and office users about available space. Renovations should be complete sometime in early 2018,” O’Brien said.

• According to Edmond, Oklahoma-based real estate developer The Broadway Group, plans are in place for a new 10,600-square-foot Dollar General retail store at 4225 Orange Beach Blvd. in Orange Beach.

• LeMott Corp. has leased 2,300 square feet of office space at the Skyline Centre Office Park LLC located at 3737 Government Blvd. in Mobile. Jill Meeks, leasing executive with Stirling Properties, represented the tenant. John Delchamps with Merrill P. Thomas Co. worked for the landlord. Legendary Realty was the referring firm.

• Some 17,500 square feet of industrial space was leased by Hyvinkää, Finland-headquartered Konecranes at 15444 Industrial Park Drive in Loxley. Founded in 1994, the international company specializes in the manufacture and service of cranes and lifting equipment. Sandy Wise with Coldwell Banker Reehl Properties represented the landlord. Adam Metcalfe with Metcalfe & Co. worked for the tenant.

 • Tots2Teens Fun Salon is leasing some 1,300 square feet of shopping center space at Spanish Fort Town Center located at 26000 Bass Pro Drive, Suite 206. The business offers salon and spa services in a kid-friendly environment. The new-to-market retailer plans to open in spring 2018. Angie McArthur with Stirling Properties managed the transaction.

• Some 788 square feet of space located inside University Village Shopping Center, 5636 Old Shell Road, has been leased to a Thai-style ice cream parlor called Pour, Chop & Roll. The eatery will open by year-end according to Marl Cummings with Cummings & Associates Inc., who handled the transaction.

• Mobile-based Briquettes Steakhouse has leased the 4,756-square-foot former Caliente restaurant space at the northwest corner of Schillinger Road and Airport Boulevard. This will be its third location in Mobile, with plans to open this fall. Buff Teague with JLL managed the transaction. 

Innovation PortAL gets federal funds
Innovation PortAL recently received an additional infusion of capital in the form of an award from the United States Department of Commerce, according to a news release. The Economic Development Administration recently announced a Regional Innovation Strategies grant award of $299,995, the fully requested amount, to the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation program.

The monies will help Innovation PortAL create, launch and administer a seed fund to support entrepreneurs in the Gulf Coast region.

“This is a testament to the entrepreneurial talent in our region and illustrates the need to support and develop future innovators,” Mobile Area Chamber President and CEO Bill Sisson said. “Our continued work with local and regional partners helps us stand out in a very competitive process.”

“Currently, there are limited seed funding offerings targeted to entrepreneurs in the Gulf Coast region. As a result, our high-potential entrepreneurs are either moving to other markets in search of capital or putting their efforts on hold. Thanks to the continued support of the EDA, this seed fund will offer our region’s entrepreneurs the critical funding required to launch and scale their ventures,” Hayley Van Antwerp, executive director of Innovation PortAL, said.

Innovation PortAL was among a pool of 217 applicants and 42 organizations, including nonprofits, institutions of higher learning and entrepreneurship-focused organizations. Twenty-eight states received more than $17 million to create and expand cluster-focused proof-of-concept and commercialization programs with early-stage seed capital funds.

Last September, Innovation PortAL received a $2.9 million Commerce Department Economic Development grant. It is being used to renovate the former Threaded Fasteners building at 358 St. Louis St., which will become the local incubator’s base of operations.

More information about Innovation PortAL can be found on the Mobile Chamber’s website.

First robotic head, neck surgery performed
Brian P. Sullivan, M.D., a head and neck surgeon with Premier Medical Group, recently completed the first head and neck procedure at Springhill Medical Center utilizing the da Vinci Xi surgical system robot.

The da Vinci Surgical System is a robotic device designed by Sunnyvale, California-based Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ: ISRG).

Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2000, the robotic surgery system is designed to facilitate complex surgery using a minimally invasive approach and is controlled remotely by a surgeon from a console. 

Locally, the robot assisted with a partial pharyngectomy procedure, a first for Mobile and for Springhill Medical.

“With the surgical robot, I have better visualization of the lower throat so I can get behind the tongue and operate on tumors more effectively with the hi-def angled cameras,” Sullivan said. “The robotic system offers enhanced 3-D maneuverability with the robotic arms, which allow for much finer control lower in the throat.

“This approach is better for the patient because there are no incisions on the neck or from outside of the throat, so the healing time is quicker with fewer complications. In some cases, this procedure can save the patient from having to undergo radiation treatments, as well,” he said.

Sullivan has experience with the procedure from prior work performed at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine before coming to Mobile, but said it historically hasn’t been widely used outside of large tertiary referral centers.

Based in Mobile, Premier Medical Group is one of the largest multi-specialty eye, ear, nose and throat groups both regionally and nationally. PMG has satellite offices throughout South Alabama and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.