In the past few years the city of Gulf Shores spent $15 million in the Gulf Place Revitalization Project at Gulf-front property near the intersection of State Routes 59 and 182.
“I believe that was one of the main contributing factors to our success and [Economic Development Coordinator] Blake’s [Phelps] success to bringing in the Embassy Suites project,” Public Works Director Mark Acreman said.
Now the city is putting in motion a Beach District Revitalization Program on the two streets directly north of the beach in the same area. On Monday, Aug. 19, Acreman presented a plan to redo the area “as a walkable, energetic beachfront district that will attract tourism, stimulate local businesses and encourage business and residential relocation.”
“What this will do is further enhance the Gulf Place improvements and create kind of a downtown, beachfront area,” Acreman said. “The limits of the project in the proposal are from Second Avenue to Highway 182 and then from West Second Street to East Second Street.”
The $4.4 million project looks to develop “quaint, landscaped boulevards” with new roadways and sidewalks, new and enhanced parking spaces and lighting and include stormwater infrastructure. The goal is to eliminate the need for on-site detention ponds to allow for more “pedestrian-friendly development.”
“We had a master stormwater plan that was completed last year and will be implemented as part of this project,” Acreman said. “That will allow for more urbanized development in the beachfront district.”
To kick off the project, Acreman is asking for $424,000 to pay Volkert for construction engineering and inspection, getting permits from the state department of transportation and environmental testing in the work area.
In the end, there will be a total of about 400 parking spaces in the project area.
“This is a conceptual plan and it is subject to change,” Acreman said. “It does show the basic intent as well as the volume of parking we hope to add to this whole beach/downtown area and walking district. We can have people that can come down and park and enjoy the existing businesses and we hope to see new businesses come to this area as a result of these improvements.”
A couple of grants and an agreement with the Embassy Suites developers will provide about $2 million toward project costs, Acreman said.
“We’ve been awarded an $800,000 TIP [Transportation Improvement Program] grant for the sidewalk components,” Acreman said. “We received a $60,000 ACAMP [Alabama Coastal Area Management Program] grant for the master planning for the stormwater system. Then there is the $1.2 million payment for parking improvements that will be provided through the Embassy Suites development agreement.”
Acreman is planning to ask the council to budget the remaining $2.4 million in the 2020 budget. He expects to see a design returned from Volkert within about 90 days with construction taking about a year to complete.
“We would likely not start this type of construction project until next year,” Acreman said. “It’s going to have to be carefully scheduled and organized through the summer season as well as the construction phase of the Embassy Suites.”
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