Stirling Properties recently released its Mobile Office Market Survey report covering business occupancy rates in the downtown Mobile Central Business District (CBD) as well as West Mobile.

According to a news release, one of the largest acquisitions involved the Merchants Plaza redevelopment by Heritage Land & Development of Memphis. The $30 million improvement project will upgrade an existing 80,000-square-foot office building to Class A office space, with an additional 26,000 square feet of commercial/retail/restaurant use and 82 upscale apartments/lofts.

Additional notable activity included the sale of the Wells Fargo Bank Building — the historic Waterman Building — to an out-of-town investor, and the sale of the Taylor Martino Building to local investors, with Taylor Martino PC leasing back the second floor.

In the leasing arena, Armbrecht Jackson LLP subleased a portion of the Regions Bank space at RSA Battle House Tower and will be vacating the top two floors of Riverview Plaza this year.

CBD occupancy rates had a slight increase, from 68.3 percent to 70.2 percent, with an average rental rate of $17.28 per square foot and an absorption rate of .25 percent.

The West Mobile office market had a slight increase in occupancy, from 78.7 percent to 80.1 percent, with little change in the average rental rate from $15.35 per square foot to $15.07 per square foot and an increased absorption rate of 1.36 percent.

Absorption rate is defined as the rate commercial real estate investors gauge tenant demand and is measured in square footage. Positive percentages indicate more potential move-in momentum in an area. Negative numbers indicate supply exceeds demand. Absorption can be measured for a single building or an entire market, as is the case with the Stirling Properties study.

Twelve downtown sites were evaluated. The largest holding commercial tenants was the 35-story, 466,684-square-foot RSA Battle House Tower, managed by Allison Rogers with Retirement Systems of Alabama and located at 11 N. Royal St., with a current occupancy rate of 84 percent.

In 2017, total square footage for downtown encompassed some 1,463,996 square feet of space.

In West Mobile 22 larger-tier commercial properties were available for lease or sale, with total square footage encompassing some 1,623,345 square feet.

The largest site under management was the 173,101-square-foot Montlimar Place office building, handled by Tommy Gleason with NAI Mobile, located at 1110 Montlimar Drive, with a current occupancy rate of 85 percent.

One of the largest new tenants moving in last year was Volkert Engineering, which leased more than 16,000 square feet of office space on two floors.

Another noteworthy West Mobile lease was the Alabama Department of Human Resources’ expansion of its Hilton Square office by 6,435 square feet.

Significant sales in West Mobile included the purchase of the 29,070-square-foot Hillcrest Square office complex located at 1000 Hillcrest Road, and another commercial property located 6420 Hillcrest Park Court, acquired by two local investors.

According to Jill Meeks, a local leasing agent with Stirling Properties, the local survey is prepared biannually and includes all office buildings that encompass at least 20,000 square feet in the metro market. Data is collected from various local brokers who manage the larger properties. 

“The main thing that jumped out at us when preparing this edition of the Mobile Office Market Survey was the sale of several office buildings in our area. This trend, along with several recent announcements of new businesses coming to our area, is an indicator that office occupancy rates will continue to increase in the coming year,” Meeks said.

Stirling Properties’ full market report for the area can be found on its website.

BCAR installs new directors, recaps 2017
The Baldwin County Association of Realtors (BCAR) recently held its annual 2018 installation ceremony, adding 16 new board members, including 2018 BCAR president Troy Wilson.

Sid Pugh, president of the Alabama Association of Realtors (AAR), conducted the oath of office for all directors. Leigh Brown, a motivational speaker and real estate agent from Charlotte, North Carolina, was the guest speaker.

Other guests included AAR southern regional Vice President Kelly Cummings of Mobile; Baldwin County commissioners Tucker Dorsey and Chris Elliott; Robertsdale Mayor Charlie Murphy and Deann Servos, executive director of area nonprofit Prodisee Pantry.

During the installation, BCAR reflected on the past year and goals accomplished under 2017 BCAR president Frank Malone. Highlights included:

• BCAR exceeded its 2017 Alabama Realtor Party Action Committee (ARPAC) goal of $79,649 by 18 percent, for a total of $93,880. There are 32 major investors in ARPAC, and 62 percent of BCAR’s membership contributed to the program.

• BCAR received an issues mobilization grant of $50,000 to assist with the 1-mill property tax renewal. The association also received a $4,500 place-making grant from the National Association of Realtors for improvement of the space behind the Fairhope Library for the Walking School Bus program.

• Donations in excess of $12,000 to local and national charities from Multiple Listing Service (MLS) compliance fines for Prodisee Pantry, Under His Wings, Baldwin County Child Advocacy Center and the NAR Relief Fund.

• In 2017, BCAR membership grew by 15 percent, starting the year with 1,708 members and ending with 1,963 members.

• BCAR’s MLS service usage grew by roughly 16 percent in 2017, starting with 1,949 subscribers and ending with 2,259.

• The Bagels and Briefs program was launched for members to update other members on local events in Baldwin County.

• BCAR held an association-wide canned food drive, with all donations going to Prodisee Pantry. More than 990 food items and $2,372 were donated to the 501(c)(3) nonprofit by the association. The office that collected the most food items and money was Roberts Brothers Inc. in Malbis.

The officers and directors inducted for the 2018 Association Board of Directors were: president, Troy Wilson; president-elect, Kandy Hines; secretary-treasurer, Stephen Roberts; central regional vice president, Andrea Kaiser-Shilston; southern regional vice president, Tommy Stanton; and immediate past president, Frank Malone.