After years and years of litigation and subsequent fits and starts, a real ending to the Bama Bayou saga may be at hand, along with a new beginning for a new tourist destination in Orange Beach.
“We’re really excited about it and we think it is a unique opportunity,” David Wallace of Texas-based developer Presidium said. “In the truest sense of the word this a public-private partnership to take a dilapidated structure and make it a revenue generator for many years to come.”
The final piece to a complicated puzzle, Wallace said, is an agreement with the city on a 25-year tax break for Presidium. The developer will keep 50 percent of the city’s sales and lodging taxes generated by Bama Bayou for 25 years or until the amount reaches $32.5 million. It’s identical to the agreement the city made with The Wharf development, Wallace said.
Orange Beach called a special council meeting on Tuesday morning and voted to enter the agreement with Presidium and passed the measure 5-0, with Councilman Jeff Boyd abstaining. His brother, Jimmy Boyd, is involved in the project.
“This project has the potential to be an outstanding development along the Gulf Coast, and we are excited that Presidium has stepped up to revitalize and bring life to a piece of property which has been an eyesore at the gateway to our community,” Mayor Tony Kennon said. “This utilizes economic development tools at our disposal to facilitate development of this project without assuming any debt or taking any financial risk. If the new project is successful, we all succeed. If it does not happen, then the city of Orange Beach has not incurred any costs whatsoever.”
A tentative settlement to the decade-long lawsuit was handed down by Judge Sarah Stewart on Aug. 31, according to attorney Sam McKerall, but much work is still to be done.
“It contains some rulings, but there are several things that need to be done before she can enter final judgment, and we’ve been directed to address certain things with additional filings,” McKerall said.
Wallace believes the ruling adds up to a dismissal and the original investors and developers of Bama Bayou must pay between $25 million and $30 million to Southeast Property Holdings and other banks, the current mortgage holders on the property.
When the closing on a sale of the property takes place, Wallace said Presidium will begin an ambitious plan to have a Gulf World marine mammal park and a new water park up and running by the summer of 2020.
Included in the plan are several hotels and condo units including a boutique hotel overlooking the Gulf World park, as well as a two-acre snorkeling lagoon teeming with tropical fish. Several restaurants will also be a part of the development including one overlooking the snorkeling lagoon. A marina is also planned on the Intracoastal Waterway for boaters coming to spend the day or have a meal.
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