The Coastal Alabama Partnership (CAP) Regional Strategic Plan advisory committee recently launched the second phase of its ambitious, and reportedly unprecedented, regional planning initiative, according to a news release.

A committee consisting of more than 110 elected, business and community leaders hailing from both Mobile and Baldwin counties met last month to provide input on a plan for the region as a whole. A secondary goal was to connect and encourage other key stakeholders to be involved in the process.

“The greatest opportunity that we have exists because of the collaboration that we have continuing to work together,” Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson said. He referenced the success of the 2014 CAP legislative trip to Washington, D.C., where 16 elected officials from both Mobile and Baldwin counties collaborated as advocates of the I-10 bridge project.

Mayor Robert Craft of Gulf Shores emphasized the importance of being prepared. “The opportunities that we have working together are so much greater than if we don’t cooperate with each other,” he said.

At the meeting, Wiley Blankenship, president and CEO of CAP, provided a brief summary of initial findings from the first part of the Regional Strategic Plan, assessing the significance of the Coastal Alabama region and establishing an economic baseline. Opportunities to diversify and strengthen the Coastal Alabama region were also identified. 

Following Blankenship’s presentation, the focus of the meeting shifted to next steps in the planning process. Larry Watts, director of community planning at Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood, introduced the Part 2 planning team, consisting of individuals from CAP, GMC, planning NEXT and Kimberly-Horn. 

Committee members participated in nine planning sessions across the region, with a final presentation set for Thursday, May 25. Discussion topics included opportunities and challenges related to resilience, environment, education, workforce, economic development, innovation, tourism, infrastructure, transportation and government structure.

At wrapup, the planning team will produce a framework for growth and development for the Coastal Alabama region with specific principles, goals and objectives.

Opportunities identified in the April meeting included: development of a high-speed ferry across Mobile Bay to connect the Eastern Shore to downtown Mobile; a collaborative effort connecting tourism regionally to drive visitors to attractions on both sides of the bay (including the GulfQuest Maritime Museum); capitalizing on history in the region by developing a history trail; greater connection of the arts in Mobile and Baldwin counties; and the development of technology and aerospace in the region.

Identified challenges centered on unplanned growth, lack of a skilled workforce, affordable housing, lack of understanding among the citizens of Baldwin and Mobile counties about the critical nature of regionalism, inadequate funding for regional opportunities and aging infrastructure.

Regional entities involved in the collaborative effort include the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance, Mobile Airport Authority, South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce, Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, Visit Mobile, Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach CVB, Alabama State Port Authority and Coastal Alabama Business Chamber
More information about the initiative can be found on the CAP website.

Commercial real estate moves
The city of Mobile recently leased the 9,384-square-foot former AutoZone retail building located at Tillman’s Square shopping center in Tillman’s Corner for use as a police precinct for the Mobile Police Department. Precinct Two, currently located near Langan Park, will move into the building sometime this summer.

The city executed a 15-year lease with Baton Rouge-based Cobalt Realty LLC and the owner of Tillman’s Square. The Mitchell Co. represented the city in the transaction; David Dexter and Pete Riehm of NAI-Mobile worked for Cobalt Realty. 

A General Services Administration-leased property at 1514 S. Broad St. at the Brookley Aeroplex sold for $1.5 million to an investor. The property consists of 3.46 acres with a 19,600-square-foot office/warehouse property occupying the site. Burton Clark of Cummings & Associates represented the buyer. Joe Steen of Joe Steen Real Estate and Development worked for the seller
According to a news release, the 375,000-square-foot McGowin Park shopping center, located near the WALA-TV studios, was sold for about $79 million to Cole Credit Property Trust IV Inc., a publicly traded, nonlisted real estate investment trust.

CCPT IV is the investment management subsidiary of Maryland-based VEREIT Inc. The seller was the Hudson Co. Mobile-based BUR Commercial has been retained by the purchaser to manage leasing of the relatively new retail center

Mobile-based Rowe Engineering and Surveying Inc. recently moved to a new 5,000-square-foot building located at 3502 Laughlin Drive, Suite B, in Mobile. The firm recently hired two new employees and has plans to hire more as work volume increases.

A group of out-of-town investors purchased some 11 acres of property at 7600 Cottage Hill Road for $617,540. Margie Baxter with M.J. Baxter & Associates worked for the property owners. Sharon Wright with White-Spunner Realty represented the buyers.

New Horizons awards scholarships
New Horizons Credit Union recently awarded five $1,000 scholarships to local area high school seniors. Applicants were chosen based on overall academic achievement, community involvement and essay responses.

Each winner was recognized at the NHCU annual meeting last month. The students were also presented with certificates for their scholarship at their respective high school’s Senior Awards Day. Checks for $1,000 will be sent to each recipient’s college or university of choice.

Scholarship winners are: Aleiha Emmons, graduate of Flomaton High School; Darnell Ferguson Jr, graduate of Murphy High School; Christopher McClintock, graduate of McGill-Toolen Catholic High School; Hailey Porter, graduate of Daphne High School and Sidney Stacey, graduate of Saraland High School.

“We believe in giving back in our community, especially through education. Nearly 100 applications were received which made the decision very difficult. We wish all the students success in their pursuits,” Lisa Corvo, president and CEO of New Horizons Credit Union, said.

Information regarding the 2018 scholarship program is available on the New Horizon company website.