According to serial entrepreneur Scott Tindle, co-founder of Mobile-based Gulf Coast Ducks and former contestant on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” the new and improved Fort Conde is about 90 percent complete and is now open for business.

The four-fifths-scale sized replica of the original fort built in 1723 (and first opened in 1976), held a soft opening last Saturday morning. Official attendance numbers weren’t available as this issue went to print, but anecdotal evidence indicated healthy foot traffic, mainly from families, according to Tindle. A grand opening is scheduled for this Saturday, May 6.

Admission will be set at $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 4-12. A combined package deal with the Duck Boat Tour will be $30, offering a $5 discount when purchased together.

“Fort Conde’s original price for admission 41 years ago was $1.50. The cost is about the same today when adjusted for inflation. We wanted to make the experience affordable for everyone who visits,” Tindle said.

A tour of the updated facilities revealed many new features, including an escape room adventure, a dressing room filled with colonial costumes for visitors to wear for photographs, a historical timeline tour of the fort utilizing historic pieces provided by the History Museum of Mobile, colonial guards at the gates and periodic historic re-enactments.

Taking the Disney-coined term “edutainment” to heart, attractions also include bringing in animatronics and holographic displays. In particular, an interactive statue of Jean-Baptiste de Bienville and a bust of Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville will be set up near the end of the 2017 or early 2018.

Historical accuracy was ensured through consultation with Stephen McNair, Ph.D., local owner of McNair Historic Preservation. He made certain various eras of attire were historically accurate reflecting the nearly 300-year revolving door of nation-states occupying the original fort.

Plans are also in place to set up an 800-square-foot restaurant slated to open in the next 90 days, serving breakfast and lunch.
Currently in its Spanish-era phase as the former “Fuerte Carlotta,” the opening will follow on the heels of the “Alabama 200” Bicentennial Launch to be held, May 5, featuring an array of festivities downtown.

Fort Conde, Mardi Gras Park and the Mobile Carnival Museum will offer free evening admission from 6-8 p.m. that day. Additionally, the Mardi Gras Park Market will offer face painting, balloons and children’s activities concurrently in the downtown block of South Royal Street.

Finally, a fireworks display and live band will take place 8-10 p.m. at Cooper Riverside Park, officially launching the three-year statewide bicentennial initiative. Admission is free.

Commercial real estate moves
Southern National Restaurant will be opening in a 3,300-square-foot space at 360 Dauphin St. in downtown Mobile in late June, inside a former piano bar. The eatery will seat about 60 patrons inside with a 500-square-foot patio fronting the property holding another 12, and an attached courtyard capable of hosting 80 guests.

According to co-owner and restaurateur Reggie Washington, 35 employees will be hired locally while five from their executive team will be brought in from out of town.

A Theodore native, Washington is co-creator of the upscale restaurant One Flew South located inside Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. That eatery has been covered by CNN, The New York Times and GQ magazine as well as earning recognition as a two-time James Beard Award Finalist; “World’s Most Popular Airport Restaurant” by Conde Nast Traveler and Southern Living’s “100 Best Bars in the South.”

“I wanted to come back home and use my resources to help bring more attention to the Mobile restaurant scene,” Washington said. “This region has been under the radar for awhile and could be the next up-and-coming area for world-class dining.”

Memphis-based Centro Inc., a specialty distributor and sales representative company of control product solutions to industry, has purchased a lot on Abigail Drive in Rangeline Business Park for $100,000. Plans are in place for the company to build a 6,000-square-foot office/warehouse space to serve clients along the Gulf Coast. The company will relocate from its current site on Sgt. Boots Thomas Drive in Spanish Fort when the building is completed in January 2018. Pratt Thomas represented Centro Inc. in the transaction.

According to Tim Herrington with Herrington Realty, a six-bay Meineke Car Care Center is under development fronting the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market located at 1300 N. University Blvd. in West Mobile.

Boot Barn will occupy 9,000 square feet of retail space in the pecan building at 5456 U.S. Highway 90 in the Tillman’s Corner area of Mobile, with plans to open in the fall. This will mark the second Alabama location for the Irvine, California-based western and workwear chain, which has 210 stores across the country. Nathan Handmacher with Stirling Properties represented the property owner. Bryan Holt with Southpace Properties of Birmingham worked for the tenant.

Marl Cummings with Cummings & Associates Inc. recently leased a 900-square-foot workshop space to Shirt Candy, a sign and printing company, as well as a 1,200-square-foot restaurant space to Java Dave’s Coffee, a coffee and confection shop. Both businesses are located at the 98 Oaks Shopping Center on Moffett Road in Semmes. The center is now fully leased, according to Cummings.

Stanley Steemer has leased 2,500 square feet of warehouse space at 25251 Friendship Road in Daphne. Nathan Handmacher with Stirling Properties represented the property owner. Spence Monroe of Ashurst Niemeyer worked for the tenant.

According to Lewis Golden with Hamilton & Co., some 1,750 square feet of office space has been leased to Glencoe, Alabama-based Five Star Industrial Service Support Center LLC located at 6161 Rangeline Road, Suite C, in Mobile. Jeremy Milling of Milling Commercial Realty represented the landlord and Golden worked for company.

LumaLife Therapy LLC will occupy 1,350 square feet of space in the Plaza de Malaga mixed-use development located at 6157 Airport Blvd. in Mobile, with plans to open in late spring. Nathan Handmacher and Justin Toomey with Stirling Properties handled the transaction.