The Mobile Housing Board (MHB) is shutting down a complex for senior citizens due to continued issues with the building’s elevators, Executive Director Michael Pierce announced.
Boykin Tower will be closing and all of its 123 residents will be moved to other complexes because of problems with the elevators, Pierce said.
“The elevators are extremely old,” he said. “There are very few parts in circulation to repair them. It’s not a good situation to have an eight-story facility without working elevators.”
The residents will be able to choose to move into any other MHB facility, including Central Plaza Towers, which is another senior complex, Pierce said. This is an internal relocation so the residents will not be given vouchers. Move-outs will be completed within 120 days and all relocation expenses will be paid by the board, he said.
“We’re going to begin as quickly as we can,” Pierce said.
The future of the complex remains in doubt. Pierce said the facility could once again be put into service with MHB, or it could be sold or demolished. We could sell it, Pierce said.
“We’re still having those discussions with [the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development],” Pierce said. “It has not been decided.”
The building’s “highest and best use” will be a determining factor, Pierce said, as well as the cost to bring it up to code weighed against the cost to continue to operate it.
“We will determine whether it stays in service for us, or if it’s a candidate for demolition,” he said.
Pierce, who resigned from the Mobile Airport Authority (MAA) board in late August, has shown interest in selling other MHB properties to the Brookley Aeroplex. MAA Chairman Elliot Maisel even entertained the possibility at the organization’s August meeting announcing Pierce’s resignation.
“There’s a likelihood our organizations will be negotiating over our desire to take ownership of a portion of that land,” Maisel said in the meeting. “[Pierce] thought it could be perceived as a conflict of interest, even if he recused himself. So, he resigned.”
In a previous interview with Lagniappe, MAA President Chris Curry downplayed the likelihood the two agencies would be in talks over that property where the Thomas James Place and R.V. Taylor complexes now sit. Curry admitted that if the property goes on the market, the airport would be an interested party, but there have been no discussions beyond that.
The Mobile Downtown Airport is planning a series of improvements as discussions continue over moving flights from Mobile Regional to Brookley within the next three years. Currently, Frontier is the only airline that uses the downtown airport, with direct flights to Denver and Chicago for the time being.
The airport was recently awarded a $1 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant to repair its apron, where planes are parked, boarded and refueled. U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, made the announcement last week.
In addition to the apron, MAA has a commitment to replace the airport’s aging taxiways and runways as well.
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