According to a news release, members of the Baldwin County Association of Realtors were part of a group of almost 140,000 Realtors nationwide who successfully pushed the United States Senate to pass the Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act of 2016 on July 14.

This legislation includes the reform of current Federal Housing Administration restrictions on condominium financing and is long-supported by the National Association of Realtors as well as BCAR.

Per industry experts, with Baldwin County having one of the largest concentrations of condos in the state, trickle-down effects from the new mandate could mean significant benefits for those seeking home financing for condos in the surrounding area.

According to NAR, this can make the FHA recertification process substantially less burdensome, lowering the current owner-occupancy requirement from 50 percent down to 35 percent. The bill also requires FHA to replace an existing policy on transfer fees with the less-restrictive model already in place at the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

“In many instances, this would open up more inventory for home buyers in our area and provide an affordable loan product for potential buyers,” BCAR affiliate member Brenda Schmucker, local Trustmark Mortgage loan originator, said.

“Tight inventory and rising home prices are a reality of today’s market, and mortgage credit is hard to come by. We should take every opportunity to clear the path for well-qualified borrowers to purchase a home when they’re ready, and this legislation does just that,” NAR President Tom Salomone said. “We look forward to seeing this legislation signed into law so homebuyers can start seeing some much-needed relief.”

NAR is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Located in Robertsdale, BCAR provides membership benefits including support from the board staff, education opportunities and networking with fellow members. BCAR also provides MLS services and education and advocacy to protect and promote private property rights. In addition, BCAR members adhere to a code of ethics and offer services to the public when they feel a member has violated the code.

Commercial real estate moves
Pratt Thomas with Merrill P. Thomas Co. Inc. facilitated the sale of an acre of commercial property on the corner of Airport Boulevard and Wesley Avenue for $740,000. An out-of-town developer bought the site and plans to build a medical office building there.

A local investor paid $640,000 for an 18,688-square-foot building at 7163 Airport Blvd., according to Amber Dedeaux of Vallas Realty, who represented the seller, Rex Radio and Television Inc. Tim Herrington of Herrington Realty worked for the buyer, who will redevelop the building for lease.

Commercial property at 8663 Bellingrath Road sold recently for $500,000 to a local investor. The 15,600-square-foot industrial office/warehouse property site sits on three acres. Pete Riehm with NAI-Mobile handled the transaction.

Frontier Technologies, a new high-tech manufacturing company, recently purchased a 55,530-square-foot manufacturing facility at 572 Industrial Park Drive in Brewton. The company builds aerospace, energy and architectural components and anticipates bringing in about 25 new jobs to the area.

The property sold for $600,000, according to Tommy Gleason and John D. Peebles of NAI Mobile, who represented the sellers. Adam Metcalfe of Metcalfe & Co. worked for the buyers in the transaction.

This is a new expansion for the 22-year-old, Gardena, California, company, which already has an established business relationship in Pensacola, Florida. The new facility will focus on light manufacturing and the assembly of metal components used in GE wind turbines installed around the world. The company will also produce wood products alongside metal for fabrication.

According to Frontier President Steven Hoekstra, the location near the company’s Pensacola customer made the choice an easy one for the new Alabama plant site, which represents an investment of more than $1.5 million. Hoekstra also said information about its wage range would be released in the coming weeks and interested, qualified workers can apply through the Alabama Career Center.

Melting Pot returns to Mobile
As recently reported by Lagniappe’s cuisine editor, The Melting Pot corporate franchise office recently announced the return of its Mobile location at 840 Montlimar Drive. This now company-operated location will create 65 new jobs for the area. The restaurant opened its doors again locally to the public last Monday.

“We are thrilled to bring our unique dining experience back to the area,” Mike Lester, president of The Melting Pot Restaurants Inc., said. “It’s an exciting time to be a part of The Melting Pot’s growth, and we look forward to welcoming our Mobile guests to this new local hot spot.”

As reported by multiple local media outlets, the previous owners, who were local franchisee partners, ran into financial problems and abruptly shuttered the eatery shortly before last Christmas, leaving nearly 30 people unexpectedly jobless during the holiday season.

For the past seven months, The Melting Pot Restaurants Inc. corporate office has worked with the Mobile site’s landlord to bring back the eatery as a company-operated location. The announcement comes on the heels of the brand’s recently launched strategic initiative to expand its company-operated footprint as a vehicle for further growth.

The local restaurant’s new general manager, Brian Walsh, has been a Mobile resident for 20 years. A restaurant industry veteran, he has extensive experience in managing single- and multi-unit restaurants for both local and national brands.

The Melting Pot operates more than 125 restaurants across 35 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, with more than 10 locations in development internationally.

To learn more about ownership opportunities with The Melting Pot, contact Christina Hobbs, director of franchise development for The Melting Pot, at, or call 800-783-0867, ext. 109.