Provalus, a subsidiary of IT solutions company Optomi of Roswell, Georgia, recently announced the selection of Brewton as its new United States headquarters. It will eventually hire 300 or more workers at a new facility to be built in the area.

The arrival is expected to attract applicants from Mobile as well as other parts of lower Alabama given the preponderance of high-wage tech positions needed onsite.

Provalus provides a wide range of IT-related services to clients in such fields as manufacturing, defense contracting, retail, food services and others. The company’s Brewton employees will be part of teams responsible for such services as app development, programming, break/fix customer service and cloud storage.

• Development plans made use of multiple sources of funding, both public and private, including a special $1.5 million appropriation from Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, according to a news release.

• Jared Irby with Mobile-based Irby LLC reported the purchase of an 11-unit apartment complex at 1160 Elmira St. in the Oakleigh Historic District of Mobile for a group of local investors.

• The company intends to invest around $100,000 to extensively update the property, which is currently at around 50 percent occupancy. Sam Marston with Marston Real Estate represented the sellers.

• The former Hardee’s building located at 13350 N. Wintzell Ave. in Bayou La Batre recently sold for $200,000. Local investors purchased the 3,400-square-foot building, which is largely furnished and equipped, and they are actively recruiting a tenant. J.T. Jenkins and David Dexter with NAI Mobile handled the transaction. 

• Mission Fitness has opened near downtown Mobile adjacent to the Oakleigh Garden District. The fitness center will be on the ground floor of the Marine Street Lofts property at 951 Government St.

Owner Jessica Callahan plans to host a pop-up event on Saturday, Aug. 19, to showcase the space. The event is also organized as a fundraiser for the 501(c)(3) nonprofit FuseProject. For more information, visit their website at www.missionfitness.rocks

Alliance releases office market report
The Downtown Mobile Alliance recently released its 2016 office market report, which indicates the leasing downtown was steady while occupancy rates and average asking rent prices rose slightly higher compared to the same time frame last year. 

The 2016 downtown Mobile office submarket remained stable with 1.975 million square feet of office space surveyed in the area, encompassing some 28 buildings. Overall, occupancy increased from 76 percent to 78 percent from 2016. Approximately 80,000 square feet was removed from the 2016 report as two properties were sold for redevelopment.

According to findings, the market absorbed more than 49,000 square feet of office space and the average asking rent rose $.58 to $18 per square foot. Class A office space occupancy declined from 89 percent to 82 percent in 2016 as a result of tenancy moves and variation from self-reported occupancy.

Highest vacancies were in Class C office space. However, two Class C office properties were purchased with plans to develop residential rental housing with commercial space on the first floors.

• The Staples-Pake building, a 30,000-square-foot commercial building, was sold and is currently under construction to convert the property into market rate-priced multi-family apartments. The developer used state and federal historic tax credits to complete the rehabilitation financing.

• The former Mobile Press-Register building at 304 Government St. was purchased by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians last year but plans for the property have not been announced. In addition, the Commerce Building at 188 N. Royal St. was bought and new owners are investing heavily in lobby and HVAC upgrades. This has resulted in decreasing vacancy for the property.

BCAR recognizes members
The Baldwin County Association of Realtors recently announced its 2017 Realtor of the Year, Ginny Stopa, and the 2017 Affiliate of the Year, Elsa VanEysbergen. Both were honored at BCAR’s annual awards luncheon held Aug. 10 at the office in Robertsdale.

“It’s always an honor to see our best Realtor and affiliate members recognized for their efforts,” Sheila Dodson, CEO of BCAR, said. “They are truly special people who serve others beyond what is required.”

Stopa is a real estate agent with RE/MAX by the Bay-Daphne and a broker at Alabama Coastal Rentals. She has been a member of BCAR since 1994 and a member of the BCAR leadership team for over a decade, including as president of the board of directors.

Stopa will now compete at the state level where she will compete with other association members for the 2017 Realtor of the Year award for the Alabama Association of Realtors.

VanEysbergen, BCAR’s 2017 Affiliate of the Year, is a local title agent and co-owner of ReaLand Title. She has been a member of BCAR since 1999 and in the industry since 1982.

BCAR is a professional trade association with over 1,700 members in the Baldwin County area. BCAR supports members through professional education, peer networking and MLS services.

Mobile lands fitness HQ
West Roxbury, Massachusetts-based Blast Fitness is relocating its corporate headquarters to Mobile by the end of 2017.

“Most of the owners live in the Southeast and we like the fact that Mobile is a more central location aligned with growth plans,” Blast Fitness president and CEO Dean Parker said.

The new headquarters will be located at 720 Oak Circle Drive E. in Mobile inside the former Callis Communications building.

Upwards of 10 employees will work there with expectations to have around 25 employees by 2019.

Parker took over as CEO and co-owner of the company in 2016. Comparisons have been made to big box franchise Planet Fitness, but with lower fees, according to Parker.

“With initial memberships starting at $7.99, our goal is to offer the best value in America,” he said.

Blast Fitness has 700 employees in 20 locations spread out across eight states, from California to Rhode Island. None is in Alabama, but the company plans to grow mainly through acquisition. Opening gyms locally is a priority, per Parker, with the goal of having locations in the area as soon as 2018.