Newly up for sale for $175,000 is the historic Crystal Ice Company located at 800 Monroe St. The 114 year-old, 8,660-square-foot property includes a warehouse and manufacturing space and sits across from a new Crystal Ice Co. plant built by Mobile’s Quinlivan family, which has run the business for generations.

Built at the turn of the 20th century, the Crystal Ice Co. has a storied history.

“Shortly after American troops embarked in Mobile to battle Spanish colonialists for sinking our battleship in Havana harbor and before we sent the 167th Alabama Army infantry division over to France to fight the Germans in WWI, the Quinlivan family opened this ice house in downtown Mobile,” selling agent John Peebles with NAI Mobile said.

With industrial processes changing, a third generation of family now produces ice in a new plant across the street from their grandfather’s old property where the business began. No longer needed, the historic old plant has two giant wells where massive blocks of ice were frozen and then run through massive cutters that produced millions of ice cubes for a wide swath of Mobile citizenry. 

“Mr. Quinlivan believes that it is time for this unique facility to launch a new creative vendor for downtown Mobile’s needs. He’s still pumping out the ice across the street, but we need somebody new and visionary to continue to serve the city,” Peebles said.

Commercial real estate moves
Pratt Thomas with the Merrill P. Thomas Company represented Z Wireless, an independent Verizon dealer, in the lease of 1,800-square-foot retail space at McGowin Park. Z Wireless will join Costco, Field and Stream, Dicks, Ashley Furniture and Home Goods among others in the development. Buff Teague with JLL represented the landlord. According to reports, construction at McGowin Park is ahead of schedule.

 Autosurance, an independent insurance agency, has leased 1,120-square-foot office space at 940 Schillinger Road N. in the Aaron’s Rental Shopping Center. Pratt Thomas handled the transaction.

 Lenny’s Sub shop has leased the former Los Tacos building in Hillcrest Square Shopping Center at 1175 Hillcrest Road. The restaurant will be relocating soon from its current spot at 257 Azalea Road store to the new location. Pratt Thomas managed the transaction for both landlord and tenant.

Plans by local Lenny’s franchise owners, Steven and Chad Brady, are to expand aggressively into the central Gulf Coast market. Current stores are located in Pascagoula, Mobile and Baldwin County.  

Demolition of Civic Center a fraction of cost versus maintaining
According to sources familiar with the project, it is estimated the demolition of the 51-year-old Mobile Civic Center would cost in the ballpark of $500K to tear down. Comparing that to ongoing maintenance costs estimated by experts to run roughly $1.8 million annually to keep open, the rationale behind Mayor Stimpson’s decision to shutter the underutilized multi-purpose “money pit” in 14 months is brought into fuller focus.

Local sources are currently giving the CC a 12-to-18-month window to find suitable investors to remain intact. Extending that line of reasoning, the clock is ticking towards a possible demolition date of late 2016 by the properties’ decision-makers if ink isn’t signed on some kind of new deal by fresh speculators.

Ideas currently bandied about for redevelopment include a multi-use residential/retail center similar to the Wharf in Orange Beach. One insider expressed agreement that a high-end shopping center would dovetail nicely with Mobile’s growing downtown business district as well as close proximity to a fully operational Airbus plant projected to employ thousands. An off ramp respite for frustrated motorists battling rush hour traffic on an increasingly congested I-10 Bayway was also an upside mentioned regarding the shopping center notion.

To date, no local developers are known to have committed to considering development options of the CC. Also well known is the fact a plenitude of large out-of-town developers has been vigorously contacted by the city, the result of which remains unknown.

“The city is looking for $150 to $200 million dollar expenditure from whoever chooses to invest in repurposing the property. My thoughts are that the better option would be for a massive company — similar to RSA — to take a good, hard look at it,” Cameron Weavil, vice-president of the Weavil Company said.

Huntington Ingalls employees honored at STEM conference
Huntington Ingalls Industries (NYSE: HII) recently announced in a news release that 10 employees from its Ingalls and Newport News shipbuilding divisions were lauded for achievements in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields during the 29th annual Black Engineer of the Year Award (BEYA) STEM Global Competitiveness Conference.

“HII is a proud sponsor of the BEYA Conference because of its extensive support for STEM in schools and in the workplace. We’re proud of our hard-working engineers who lead our company in STEM innovation, so we celebrate and congratulate them on this achievement.” Bill Ermatinger, HII’s corporate vice president and chief human resources officer said.
The awards were presented Feb. 7 at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, D.C. and two of those recognized work at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula.

HII’s BEYA winners from Ingalls were:
Derrick Scott, an engineering manager for Ingalls’ planning yard, overseeing the life-cycle engineering of the Spruance-class (DD 963) destroyers, Ticonderoga-class (CG 47) guided-missile cruisers and San Antonio-class (LPD 17) amphibious transport docks. Scott received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Auburn University and has worked at Ingalls for 27 years.

Dannon Butts, a quality engineering manager at Ingalls. During his 13 years with the shipyard, Butts has served in roles of increasing responsibility in the operations and quality departments. Currently, he leads a team that acts as a liaison between Ingalls’ functional areas and the company’s customers to improve quality performance. He holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in industrial engineering from Mississippi State University.