According to a recent press release, the 40,000-square-foot Buick Building in downtown Mobile is set to see a significant, floor-to-ceiling restoration after sitting vacant for more than a decade.

The historic property, also known as the Turner-Todd Motor Company, will soon house two businesses that, in essence, represent the first major renovation project along the St. Louis Street “auto alley” corridor in several years.

Rogers & Willard, Inc., a commercial construction firm founded by local businessmen Mike Rogers and Steve Willard, will anchor the space. Rogers & Willard has been at its current location on Mill Street for over 20 years, but its founders wanted to become more engaged in the redevelopment of downtown.

“I love downtown Mobile because it is the hub of the metro region, with an easy commute to both sides of the bay,” Mike Rogers, president of Rogers & Willard, Inc. said. “Downtown has great access to I-10 and I-65, and customers and employees will love the access to amenities and restaurants that are within walking distance.”

The other occupant announcing a move is Rural Sourcing Inc. (RSI). Jeremy Milling with Milling Commercial Realty worked for the landlord on the project. David Dexter and Tommy Gleason of NAI Mobile represented RSI.

In January of 2014, Rural Sourcing Inc., a leading domestic information technology sourcing firm, announced the opening of its new software development center in Mobile, adding north of 100 new tech-related jobs with competitive salaries to the area.

“This project will serve as a catalyst for the expansion of downtown’s development to the St. Louis Street corridor,” Fred Rendfrey, director of downtown economic development for the Downtown Mobile Alliance said. “St. Louis Street is important because as Mobile’s original ‘Automobile Alley,’ it has many large dealership buildings that are prime for redevelopment.”

The multi-tenant office building located at 451 St. Louis Street will have approximately 19,000-square-feet remaining for lease, the majority of the space located on the second floor. A 2,500-square-foot section on the first floor with additional 1,100-square-feet of outdoor seating also remains available, well suited for a restaurant or café space according to Rendfrey.

Commercial Real Estate Moves

A Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwich franchisee recently leased a 1,500-square-foot retail space at 1100 McKenzie St. It is an out parcel located within the Piggly Wiggly Shopping Center in Foley and will open in the spring of 2015. Angela McArthur of BHHS Cooper and Co., Inc. Commercial Division handled the transactions.

Sharon Wright with White-Spunner Realty Commercial Sales recently closed on a 5,170-square-foot office building for $400,000. The property is located at 22765 U.S. Highway 98 in Fairhope and was purchased by a local investor. Wright represented the seller and Carlton Niemeyer with Niemeyer Realty worked for the buyer.

According to Tim Herrington with Herrington Realty, Inc. and John Vallas with Vallas Realty, Inc., an out of state investor purchased roughly 2.10 acres at the corner of the Baldwin Beach Expressway and I-10 for $865,000. Currently, negotiations are in place with both a fast food restaurant and a convenience store interested in leasing space within the quadrant of property.

Whole Foods Market to add EV charging station

According to Bill Youngblood, owner of Youngblood Real Estate, the highly anticipated Whole Foods Market grocer soon to open at the Pinebrook Shopping Center will have an electric vehicle (EV) charging station to add Mobile to its growing list of major metro markets using such eco-friendly facilities.

A report made last summer by Internet-based green automotive industry news website AutoblogGreen, stated that American public and private entities were adding publicly accessible stations at a rate of 180 units per month. Also, according the most recent U.S. Department of Energy numbers, there are currently 8,718 of these alternative fuel depots publicly found nationwide. 

The top three states with EV pit stops are California (1,950), Texas (548) and Florida (487). Alabama (34) ranks 35th while Mississippi (20) placed 44th in the country.

Locally there are eight public charging stations in Mobile and Baldwin counties according to the world’s largest EV charging network database, Of those, four are at car dealerships, one is at a campground in Theodore, one is at Foley city park, one is at Thames Batré Insurance and the last one is at the Riverview Hotel.

Whole Foods will be the first true retailer in the area hosting EV charging access. To date, the Whole Foods Market chain only has 40 EV-friendly stations nationwide prior to construction of the facility in Pinebrook.

“A lot of credit for influencing Whole Foods to put this in place should go to local vascular surgeon Rip Phieffer. He is a well-known local proponent of expanding green energy use in the area,” Youngblood said. “Mobile may not be using 21st century technology yet in some areas, but with the way the economy is picking up locally we may catch up soon.”

Hart rejoins Hand Arendall

Hand Arendall, LLC recently announced that Christine Harding Hart rejoined the firm’s Mobile office as an associate in the litigation section.

A native of southern California, Hart received her juris doctorate at the University of Southern California Gould School Of Law in 2011. She received her bachelor’s degree in Economics from Stanford University in 2006. She is admitted in Alabama and California.

Hart returns to the firm after completing a one-year clerkship in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for the Hon. Theodore A. McKee, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Wilkins Miller’s Jones selected as “Forty Under 40”

Erin S. Jones, a CPA and manager with Wilkins Miller, LLC was selected as one of CPA Practice Advisor’s “Forty Under 40” for 2014. According to the magazine, these individuals are active in the professional arena as well as in their local communities. Their core goal is to help make the profession more flexible by embracing the changes that are necessary to keep it thriving.

Jones has more than 10 years experience in public accounting and graduated from Spring Hill College with a bachelor’s in accounting and a MBA. She is currently on the board for the Alabama Society of Certified Public Accountants (ASCPA) and serves as treasurer for the Mulherin Custodial Home in Mobile. She is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).