According to the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce 2017 State of the Economy report covering downtown development, over the past 12 months 10 new multifamily housing sites are in the planning phase, have broken ground and/or now available for lease in the downtown Mobile area.

As these sites open, expectations are that the properties will create a surge in demand for new services downtown, essentially opening a spigot, with higher-volume, steady streams of patron foot traffic for new and existing businesses in that area.

According to the study, the 2016 downtown Mobile office submarket remained stable with 1.9 million square feet of office space in 28 buildings. Overall occupancy increased from 76 percent to 78 percent over 2015.

Approximately 80,000 square feet of residential space was removed from the 2015 report, as two properties were sold and are now being redeveloped.

The local market also absorbed more than 49,000 square feet of office space. Average asking price rose 58 cents — ranging from to $18 per square foot to upwards of $20 per square foot.

The 10 downtown residential developments currently in play include: 

• Meridian at the Port, 300 N. Water St., with 267 units in preconstruction and a $51 million investment;

• Temple Lodge, 558 St. Francis St., with 12 units currently under construction and a $2.7 million investment;

• Gayfers, 165 Dauphin St., with 60 units in design and an $11.9 million investment;

• 360 Dauphin Street, 360 Dauphin St., with eight units currently available for lease and a $1.5 million investment;

• Russell School, 304 S. Broad St., with 26 units available for lease and a $4.6 million investment;

• Staples Pake property, 100 N. Royal St., with 20 units currently under construction and a $6 million investment;

• Marine Street Lofts, 901 Government St., with 48 units now being leased and a $6 million investment;

• The Fort of Colonial Mobile, address to be determined, with 131 projected units currently under design and a $58 million investment;

• Seamen’s Bethel, 350 St. Joseph St., with 60 units currently in design phase and a $6 million investment;

• Merchants Plaza, 106 St. Francis St., with 84 units in design phase and a $35 million investment.
Overall, unit availability for downtown residential living spaces now encompasses some 716 units with a collective investment of $182.75 million.

Commercial real estate moves
• Alan Belcher Mixed Martial Arts has leased 4,100 square feet of studio space at 109 Furr St. in Mobile. Belcher, a professional MMA instructor and former UFC competitor, plans to open a kickboxing gym at the location. Cameron Weavil with the Weavil Co. worked for the tenant. Jeremy Milling of Milling Commercial Realty represented the landlord.

• Chef and owner James Knowles is leasing 4,101 square feet of restaurant space to open Fabian: The Trattoria in the former La Pizzeria space located at 1455 Monroe St. in Mobile. The Italian eatery is planning a public announcement in January, which will announce their anticipated opening date and other details. 

Jack Conger, leasing executive with Stirling Properties, represented the tenant. Gaines Zarzour of Monarch Group worked for the landlord, McNair Historic Preservation. Affiliate restaurant Sophia’s Italian Eatery at 20 Hand Ave. in Bay Minette is now open, according to Conger, and features a daily lunch and Sunday brunch buffet.

• Daryl Cleworth with the Merrill P. Thomas Co. Inc. announced the recent closing of a one-acre sale of undeveloped property for $140,000 on Rand Avenue in Austin Business Park. Cleworth represented the seller and Steve Murray of Ashurst worked for the buyer.

• Mobile-founded Hargrove Engineers + Constructors has expanded to a new office located at 4005 Technology Drive in Angleton, Texas, roughly an hour south of Houston. The new office comes on the heels of office openings in Beaumont in early 2016 and Houston in 2014. This will be Hargrove’s 12th location overall and its third in Texas.

• According to Mamun Siddiq of RE/MAX Partners, a nonlocal investor paid $525,000 cash for the Chevron gas station located at 3464 Springhill Ave. in Mobile. Plans are in place to renovate as well as upgrade the business in early 2018. Siddiq handled both sides of the transaction.

MCI joins global collaboration in cancer treatment
Per a news release, USA Mitchell Cancer Institute (MCI) has become one of the institutions worldwide taking part in a collaboration in cancer immunotherapy with Vedanta Biosciences, an affiliate of PureTech Health.

Massachusetts-based Vedanta Biosciences, a global leader in the microbiome field, recently announced the new collaboration with MCI and Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands.

“Data from our ongoing clinical collaborations in melanoma show that gut bacteria signatures could help determine if a cancer immunotherapy will work,” Bruce Roberts, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of Vedanta Biosciences, said.

The new collaboration with MCI, led by Art Frankel, M.D., will analyze associations between the gut microbiome and responses to checkpoint inhibitor treatment in multiple tumor types.

“We could become one of the few places in the country to develop this particular therapy and test it in clinical trials,” Frankel said.

MCI is the only academic cancer research and treatment facility on the upper Gulf Coast corridor, with offices in Mobile, Fairhope and Monroeville.

Amazon donates holiday gifts to Boys and Girls Club
Last week Seattle-based Amazon delivered upwards of $15,000 worth of charity goods to local nonprofit The Boys and Girls Club of South Alabama. Gift items included toys, rain jackets, hygiene products and other essentials, as well as holiday-related materials.

After the donation was unveiled, children and families had the opportunity to choose items, participate in holiday activities and visit with Christmas characters, including Santa Claus.

The donation is part of Amazon’s national holiday tour. The e-commerce giant will donate $1 to the National Alliance to End Homelessness fund for every mile their fleet of trucks criss-cross the country during this holiday tour.

The Mobile-area event followed on the heels of Amazon’s recent grand opening at its first facility in Alabama. Located in Theodore, the 300,000-plus-square-foot site is Amazon’s 39th sortation center in North America. It services customers in the Mobile and Baldwin county metro areas, with expedited delivery.