When I was in my 20s and single, I always lived in Downtown or Midtown. In fact, I would make a joke that I would never live in West Mobile, which I would define as, “you know, anything west of Ann Street.” (Insert condescending cackle.)
And I pretty much kept my word. I rented houses or apartments in LoDa, Church Street East and Oakleigh until I eventually bought my first home, also in the OGD.
I know I am a snob about it but I have just never understood why anyone would choose to live in the land of strip malls surrounded by seas of parking lots, also known as WeMo, over the glorious LoDa, MiMo and OGD worlds of oak canopies, historic homes and charm galore.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know all of the reasons people say they do: newer, more affordable homes with better floor plans, safety, schools, more kid friendly, etc. I get it.
But still …
I know. I totally admit I’m a snob about it. Sorry, WeMo. I do love visiting your fabulous retail, I just don’t want to live by it.
Later, when I got married and started birthin’ babies, my husband and I considered for a brief second making the move west of the interstate, as visions of open floor plans, square footage and large yards danced in our heads. But ultimately, we just couldn’t do it.
Luckily we were able to find a home that fit all of our needs and one where we could still call ourselves MiMo residents, though I now define it as, “you know, anything east of Florida Street.” (Insert slightly less condescending cackle.)
So, as an overly proud and downright arrogant MiMo-ian, I have been thrilled to see all of the proposed changes coming to our enchanted land, though some are not without problems.
Are pigs flying? Is it chilly in Hell? Ann Street is getting repaved!
Someone pinch me and tell me I am not dreaming, then cue an Alleluia chorus! This week Mayor Sandy Stimpson AND* the Mobile City Council announced their COLLABORATIVE* effort to begin reconstruction of everyone’s favorite third world-ish city street. Good ol’ Annie Poo!
The first phase will cover from Arlington to Douglas streets and will cost a whopping $3.47 million. I know, I know, I wish we could see the whole thing done from beginning to end this summer too, but hey, it’s a start. And the mayor AND* City Council promise the rest of the street’s renovations have been designed and are now just awaiting funding.
Just think, in a few years we will have to find something else to complain about, so we should enjoy our remaining time with our sweet, little dilapidated street. If you use your imagination, you can make traveling down it more like an adventure than a bone-jarring jostle-fest.
For instance, I like to pretend the intersection at Ann and Old Shell must be what it feels like to ride on the roughest part of the moon in some sort of lunar rover. Maybe I’ll miss that.
Or maybe I’ll miss hearing my kids wail when their milk sloshes out of their cups and onto my seats as we drive down it. Mommy, stop driving so bumpy.
Or the mystery of wondering if my suspension has been totally wrecked by hitting 9,000 potholes and patches.
You know what they say, you never really know what you had until it’s gone. Except I think we kind of do in this case. And it hasn’t been pretty. No offense, Anna Banana, but good riddance.
Good job, Mayor AND* Council! We applaud your COLLABORATIVE* effort!
(*All-caps words are used in an effort to make sure everyone in the entire city government is getting some credit for this project, so no whining will occur.)
Old Shell and Florida developments
MAB American Management, the developer for the property at Old Shell Road and Florida Street, where the old Augusta Evans School sits, submitted their plans for that property and the surrounding ones to the planning commission recently. The multi-use plan calls for several strip malls and an anchor tenant of Publix and eventually some residential units in the form of row houses.
Though every MiMo-er is thrilled at the prospect of having this site developed and having neighborhoods that are more walkable, these plans didn’t really melt our Publix-brand butter. I will say I didn’t hate all of it — I personally thought the “row house” part of the plan was cute, though I know others do not agree.
But the main site was way too parking lotty and strip mally.
MAB, we totally thank you for having interest in developing our ‘hood, but as previously mentioned there is a reason we don’t live in West Mobile. Four words: parking lots (and) strip malls. Yuck! I’m sorry, MAB, but we are snobs. We want something fancier!
The Midtown Mobile Movement has been working to create a greener, more livable, walkable, pedestrian-friendly Midtown for some time and even received $65,000 from city and county officials to have urban designers create the Design Old Shell Road plan, and that plan is incredible. Very pedestrian friendly, with on-street parking, cafes and a charming “village feel.” Although I am not sure how realistic some parts of it are, it is a dream plan for sure and that’s what it is supposed to be.
Though MAB had a meeting to get input from residents and the MMM, they clearly didn’t really take those wishes into account, which is a shame, but hopefully the conversation is just beginning. Obviously, a lot of things would be better than an abandoned school sitting there, but there is no reason why we can’t work together to make all parties happy.
I applaud the Midtown Mobile Movement for reacting to these disappointing plans in such a professional, rational manner. They didn’t lose their minds and start screaming or calling for folks to chain themselves to buildings, they simply urged MiMobilians to contact the Planning Commission and their councilperson to express their concerns.
They also released a statement saying the “proposed design for the street and additional retail buildings surrounding Publix does not align with the community’s plan for a walkable and village-like community,” while also stating their desire to work with the developer to come to a consensus. I like that. Sometimes here in our beloved Port City, when an injustice is perceived, we start screaming our heads off first and then we may ask some questions later if we are still interested — you know, if another outrage du jour has not come along.
The Planning Commission is set to review the current plans on May 5, but hopefully MAB will reconsider before then and come up with a new plan taking our neighborhood vision into account. Sorry, guys, but we love our MiMo Paradise and we just can’t let you pave it to put up a parking lot.