The Gulf Coast Ducks may have already given their last tour, but that didn’t stop the owners from purchasing a building downtown from the city.
Activation Maintenance purchased 650 St. Anthony St. from the city for $255,000 following the approval of the Mobile City Council on Thursday, Jan. 3. The building was previously under lease to the company as a storage and maintenance garage for the duck boats. Under the lease, Activation paid $8,700 per year ($725 per month) to lease a 2,409-square-foot section of the building. Activation also paid utilities on its portion of the building, according to the lease agreement.
The company plans to open a private automobile repair shop in the building, according to a Facebook video released by co-owner and manager Scott Tindle. Tindle did not return a call seeking additional comment but according to the video, the auto shop will be called 5-Star Auto Care.
As a condition of the purchase agreement, Activation will lease a portion of the building back to the city for use as a parade float barn. The city will pay Activation $4,392 per year, or $366 per month, for the use of 1,360 square feet. The term of the lease is for five years.
The purchase price of $255,000 was set by an appraisal and based on the fair market value of the building, Real Estate Officer John Olszewski told the council.
Council Vice President Levon Manzie, who represents the downtown area, said he has no issues with the sale, adding the new owners have a track record of improving property.
“I don’t see any foreseeable use for it,” Manzie said of the building. “I feel the price is fair.”
Activation was given first right of refusal if the city decided to sell the building, according to the lease agreement. It’s unclear if the city decided to sell the property or if Activation approached city officials.
Activation Management also has a lease agreement with the city on the building formerly known as Fort Conde. The building is managed by the Mobile History Museum Board. Now named the Fort of Colonial Mobile, Activation operates tours telling the story of Mobile through its four colonial occupying countries: the U.S., France, Great Britain and Spain. Tindle has previously said the fort is designed to switch between the countries every quarter. The fort is also home to a restaurant Activation manages called Sylvia’s Biscuits + Poboys. Few details have been released about the agreement between the board and Activation to this point.
Meanwhile, Gulf Coast Ducks gave its last tour Sunday, Jan. 6, after the company announced it had been unable to secure affordable insurance. Allegedly, a deadly duck boat incident in Missouri last summer in which 17 people were killed affected the industry nationwide.
Bob Ojeta, an office manager and driver with Austin Duck Adventures in Texas, said the accident had a negative impact on insurance prices for the so-called military-style duck boats, like those used by Gulf Coast Ducks. He said newer duck boats, like those used in Austin, do not have a similar problem because they’re virtually “unsinkable.”