The Mobile County Commission voted on Thursday to move forward with the sale of the county’s parking garage located adjacent to Government Plaza on Joachim Street for an even $3 million.
The sale was finalized to the Downtown Parking LLC, run by hotelier Theodora Mallick, at just above the building’s appraised value of $2.9 million, according to County Attorney Jay Ross. Mallick, who also operates The Admiral Semmes Hotel located on Joachim Street, has leased the building from the county for years.
Commission President Connie Hudson didn’t speak to the financial details of that lease immediately following the meeting on Thursday, but she did say the county “wasn’t making a profit off of it.”
“If we were making a big profit from something, we sure wouldn’t be selling it off. I promise you,” said Hudson, who couldn’t put an exact date on when the county took ownership of the garage. “It predates the construction of (Government Plaza). The money will go directly into the general fund, but this is not a recurring surplus. It’s a one-time sale of an asset.”Hudson said she couldn’t speak for Mallick on the plans for the garage, but she did say she understood it to be something open to the public. She also said Mallick was first on the list to purchase the property because the county’s lease included an option to buy.
“The top two or three floors are not filled now, so it’s not anywhere near capacity,” Hudson said. “They may have plans to completely renovate it and charge for the spaces. At least that’s what I understood them to be doing.”
The Commission was able to negotiate a three-year discounted rate for its employees, some of whom have used the parking deck in the past. Hudson said that agreement would include roughly 50 parking spaces for county employees and a similar arrangement for employees of the Mobile County District Attorney’s office.
Soccer field purchasing option extended
Last July, the commission approved an updated agreement to purchase the 116 acres at the I-65/I-10 corridor slated to house the county’s contested $20.7 million tournament soccer facility.
On Thursday, the commission approved a $10,000 extension to that purchasing option that will extend the county’s reservation on the property for another 120 days. As part of the agreement, all the money the county has paid for the option — $36,000 to date — will ultimately be credited to the $2.9 million purchase of the property. The Mobile City Council has also agreed to give the county $1.5 million toward that purchase.
On Thursday, Hudson said she didn’t think the county would have to extend the option again, and could have a final decision on a land deal during the course of the 120-day extension.
One of the last hurdles delaying the purchase has been the permitting process through the United States Army Corps of Engineers, which recently requested additional information on the water park and aquatic center that are planned to be a part of the complex’s later construction phases.
“We think we’re close to getting our permit through the Corps of Engineers, but there’s still some final details work out. But, we’ll have a meeting (on Friday),” Hudson said. “ I think we’ll be able to answer some of the remaining issues the Corps has, and I feel like we’re really close.”