According to a recent press release, the Alabama State Port Authority (ASPA) has contracted with R.T. Milord Company out of Bridgeview, Illinois, to develop Phase I of the Garrows Bend Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) at the Port of Mobile.

The intermodal rail facility is the first part of the Port Authority’s three prong development plans that includes a 45-foot draft container terminal and logistics park.   

The $20.1 million contract calls for the construction of two operating tracks, a run-around track and a car repair siding track all design to be a minimum of 3,000 feet. Components in the first phase of construction will also include rubber-tired gantry runways and chassis storage areas, multilane gates, power distribution and lighting, an access road and related surface improvements. The facility will be equipped with high tech optical character recognition (OCR) portals at rail and truck entrances to increase production efficiency.  

“We are pleased to get this important phase of our intermodal investment program underway,” Jimmy Lyons, director and chief executive for the Port Authority said. “The delivery of an intermodal rail facility is essential to alleviating time and cost pressures for our shippers, while expanding our market reach.” 

The project was calculated by Martin Associates to create more than 300 direct and indirect jobs and generate more than $7.4 million in state and local revenue and tax impacts, according to the announcement.

Commercial real estate moves

A new 10,000-square-foot American Autism & Rehabilitation Center (AARC) will open in Spring 2015 in Daphne that is unique to the area. The facility, located at 8909 Rand Ave., will primarily assist patients with autism and a variety of special needs conditions, as well as diabetes and physical needs. Other services offered include speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and nursing.

“The American Autism & Rehabilitation Center is a locally owned facility that will provide the most comprehensive range of services of its type in the region and quite possibly the entire Southeast,” Kevin Mohler, vice president of marketing said.

Local and out-of-town investors jointly purchased 53 partially developed residential lots encompassing approximately 17.73 acres in River’s Edge subdivision as well as 43 acres of excess land (planned for future development) in Foley, Alabama for $455,000. The property is a half-mile southwest of State Highway 59 and County Road 12. The buyers were represented by Coastal Real Estate & Development. John Vallas of Vallas Realty, Inc. worked for the seller.

According to reports, Nathan Cox of Bellator Real Estate and Development and architect Forrest Daniell are currently waiting until Jan. 12, 2015, for a planning commission hearing with the proposed Ascension and Grace Towers in Orange Beach. If the city says developers can’t build to 35 and 36 stories, Cox stated that his group can build to the zoning specifications.

The new development plans call for heights of 430-plus feet for one tower and 450-plus feet on the other. That size would rival Birmingham’s Wells Fargo Tower, at 454 feet, as the second tallest building in Alabama. Mobile’s RSA Battle House Tower is the state’s tallest at 745 feet.

Daniell stated that if the plan follows the current zoning, a five-story garage would run the length of the property close to Perdido Beach Boulevard. However, if a variance on the height restrictions are eased, then that structure would not be needed.

A new Romar Hotel is planned for a site due east of Gulf State Park’s Cotton Bayou Beach Access, less than a quarter mile from the proposed Grace and Ascension property. The hotel will go up in an area where a former Days Inn was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

The hotel is expected to have 60 rooms and space for parking 75 cars, including 50 spaces in a planned parking garage. Local zoning ordinance allows for buildings as tall as 25 stories, provided that five of the stories are dedicated for parking and 20 for housing units.

A 22-story complex named “Junonia” also recently received official approval on land due west of the Hampton Inn in Orange Beach, located at 25518 Perdido Beach Blvd. According to a website for the complex, 57 of 97 units have been sold. Plans call for 76 three-bedroom, three-bath units, 18 four-bedroom, four-bath units, and one penthouse suite with three bedrooms and three baths.

Local realtor and former banker Rick Phillips was listed on the website as the Junonia developer.

Mobile Chamber’s ACA seminar

The Mobile Chamber will be holding an all-day end of year seminar entitled “Innovations in Healthcare Summit” Thursday, Dec. 11, at the Mobile Marriott to give both large and small business owners a final prep on new Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) legislation enacted moving into 2015.

National experts in healthcare reform will discuss newly developed methods, utilizing web-based tools, to help local business owners make well informed choices about controlling health care related costs while toeing the line on imminent ACA legislation.

Topics covered will include private exchanges, telemedicine, captive insurance and utilizing onsite clinics. The morning session targets small and mid-sized businesses with fewer than 100 employees while the afternoon session focuses on companies employing north of that number. 

The lunch features keynote speaker attorney Matthew W. Stiles of Birmingham-based Maynard Cooper & Gale P.C. His lecture is entitled “ACA in Full Swing: Preparing for 2015 and Beyond.” Stiles is an expert in labor and employment and employee benefits and executive compensation practices and is also an adjunct professor of law at the University of Alabama School of Law.

“Since the act was signed, the Chamber has been a leader in disseminating critical information to the business community regarding the Affordable Care Act over the years. To date we have offered five educational meetings attended by over 250 business owners, both large and small,” Danette Richards, Mobile Chamber’s Director of Small Business said.

“These seminars help them better understand what questions they should be asking of their professional advisors. With a continually changing healthcare reform landscape, the business community is looking for better ways to manage healthcare costs and be compliant with the laws,”

Cost for the event is $50 for Chamber members, $60 non-members and includes lunch. Registrations not cancelled before Dec. 5 must be honored to cover the cost of lunch.