Photo | Lagniappe
This home sits in Thomas James Place, which is one of the areas Mobile Housing Board is looking to demolish and relocate residents within the next five years
The Mobile Housing Board’s (MHB) executive director, Michael Pierce, has resigned from an airport management group, as speculation about increasing the Brookley Aeroplex footprint onto some of MHB’s property ramps up.
Elliot Maisel, chairman of the quasi-governmental Mobile Airport Authority, announced at its regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday, Aug. 28 that Pierce had tendered his resignation to focus on his work with MHB, but also to stifle the appearance of a conflict of interest if and when future negotiations between the boards ever took place on property now occupied by the Thomas James Place and R.V. Taylor complexes.
“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.”
The authority is going to “miss working” with Pierce, Maisel said. As for his replacement, Maisel said Mayor Sandy Stimpson would start the process of vetting a new appointee to the airport board.
Pierce left a vacancy as the board’s secretary. The authority chose former State Rep. Jamie Ison to replace him.
Despite Maisel’s comments, Airport Authority President Chris Curry downplayed the likelihood the airport would be involved at this point in the process.
“We’ve only discussed the fact that if and when the property became available, we’d be an interested party,” Curry said. “There have been no discussions.”
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has recently mandated that residents of both R.V. Taylor and Thomas James Place be converted to voucher-based, or Section 8, assistance. This would be less expensive than to modernize the properties and manage them as is, MHB wrote in a statement about the HUD request .
MHB is working on a conversion application for the properties, but is still in the beginning stages of that process. While the conversion mandate means the housing on those properties will be torn down, Pierce said, the sale process would be long and somewhat complicated. For one, he said, the property would have to be appraised to determine fair market value before a sale process could begin.
“That process has not begun,” he said. “There have been no discussions.”
The property would also need a masterplan, which would determine “the highest and best” use for the property. Given the property’s proximity to interstates 10 and 65, it could be a popular venture.
“It may or may not be sold to the airport,” Pierce said.
The property in question is 330 acres, Pierce said, and the two properties house about 500 families. Through a five-year conversion process those families will be given the choice of participation in the Housing Choice Voucher, or Section 8, program, or will be relocated to other Mobile Housing Board properties, Pierce said.
HUD could approve MHB’s application for conversion as early as the first of next year. The five-year process would begin at that point, he said. The process includes mandatory meetings with residents in the affected areas.
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