Gov. Robert Bentley, who lost the Gulf Shores beach house he shared with his ex-wife Dianne in their 2015 divorce agreement, appears to have made another real estate investment just two miles farther west down Fort Morgan Road, according to Baldwin County property records. Last October, the governor paid $137,500 for a vacant lot next to 6613 Sea Shell Drive.
Notably, the property is just a block away from the state-owned mansion that recently benefited from a $1.8 million renovation, paid for with grant money available after the BP oil spill in 2010.
Less than a month after their divorce was settled in September 2015, the governor signed a quit claim deed on the property he shared with Dianne, 8859 Pompano Way in Gulf Shores, which noted the assessor’s market value at the time was $374,000. The Bentleys originally purchased the property as a vacant lot in 2012.
On Feb. 12, 2016, Dianne sold the property for $535,000 to Northriver Properties LLC, which listed an address in Tuscaloosa. Secretary of State’s records indicate Northriver Properties LLC dissolved in 2005, but the address provided on the deed is a house owned by Thomas West of Tuscaloosa.
Three days before, Caleb Hastings of Bowling Green formed a Kentucky company called Kanine Properties LLC. On Sept. 15, 2016, Kanine Properties purchased 6613 Seashell Drive — a double lot with a small rental house on the west half — for $350,000 from Robert and Kelsey Griffin. About a month later, on Oct. 14, Kanine sold the vacant, east half of the property to Gov. Bentley for $137,500.
Hastings, who was reached last week at his place of employment, First Southern National Bank in Kentucky, declined to offer any details about the transaction.
“Whatever’s public record is out there but the rest of it should remain private,” he said. “I understand there is a lot of controversy with Gov. Bentley and I don’t want to get involved with it.”
An online listing for 6613 Seashell Drive, a vacation house known as “Sea Forever,” notes that it is a three-bedroom, two-bath home with a separate one-bedroom studio downstairs capable of accommodating as many as 10 guests. A three-bedroom, three-bathroom home just a block away is currently listed on Zillow.com for $445,000; 6525 Sea Shell Drive, with four bedrooms and two baths, is listed for $449,000.
Daniel Sparkman, a spokesman for Gov. Bentley, did not acknowledge a request for more information.