Mobile Airport Authority Chairman Elliot Maisel confirmed the agency and the city made a competitive offer for University of South Alabama Foundation land adjacent to the Brookley Aeroplex, but weren’t successful in attaining the bayside property .
The USA Foundation announced it had sold the property to a developer for $45 million on March 14, but at a meeting last Wednesday Maisel told members of the airport board talks were still ongoing between the Airport Authority and the foundation up until the sale was announced.
“We totally respect the USA Foundation’s decision,” he said. “We’re disappointed. We’re in standby mode and we’ll keep an eye on the situation and see what happens.”
City spokesman George Talbot, who attended Wednesday’s meeting, confirmed the city had been in on the proposed deal as part of a consortium of entities. However, Talbot wouldn’t specify how much the city had been willing to offer — only saying it was “competitive.”
From the city’s perspective, a portion of the property designated as wetlands would have been developed into a bayside park, according to Talbot.
“We had an interest in acquiring it,” he added. “Public access to the waterfront is very precious in Mobile.”
On the other hand, Talbot said, the city is interested and excited to see what 24/7 Property Development, LLC, does with the land.
“It’s incredible to see that level of investment in the city,” he said.
The Airport Authority was interested in developing part of the 90 acres adjacent to the airport to increase its footprint and open it up to more suppliers and industrial growth, MAA President Chris Curry said.
As it stands, the 24/7 Property Development team will hold on to most of the property, and its plans currently are to leave the shoreline “substantially” free from development, according to a statement from the USA Foundation. Under the agreement, the foundation will retain ownership of about 41 acres to develop an urban park.
“We remain excited about the coming development of the Brookley property,” USAF Managing Director Maxey Roberts said in a statement. “The foundation believes the sale of the property to 24/7 Property Developers, LLC, will be of great benefit not only to the foundation, but will also have a significant, positive economic impact on the greater Mobile community. We believe the sale is a win-win scenario for all parties.”
Development plans for the remaining property have not been announced.
In other business at the MAA meeting, the board approved a contract amendment with Curry following a lengthy executive session that covered a number of topics. Maisel said the vote would allow the board to “sweeten the pot” on Curry’s contract.
Curry and Maisel will negotiate the terms of the deal going forward, which would seem to give Curry a pay increase. Since he was hired as executive director of the MAA in 2017, Curry has already been promoted to president.
“We’ve got an exciting five years-plus,” Maisel said. “There’s never been a more important five years to this point and there may never be a more important five years.”
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