New buildings are underway or on the drawing board all over town in Orange Beach and plans are at last finalized on a waterfront parcel the city has been studying for more than 12 years.
Orange Beach first bought the property in the early 2000s for a combination of cash and a land swap for a total of about $9.6 million. Several plans for building on the lot which sits on Terry Cove east of Sportsman Marina were floated, but none of them stuck.
On the southeast corner of the parcel, the city is planning to relocate Coastal Resources offices from the City Hall complex to the east of the boat basin. Currently, the city’s dog park is on the northern end of the property and a nine-basket disc golf course is on the south end.
In addition to planning on a new office and storage as part of the building, the city will also build a marina in the boat basin to store the Coastal Resources boats.
“We need to find a place to house our marine operations and initially our Coastal Resources operations,” Coastal Resources Director Phillip West said. The project is expected to cost about $1.5 million.
The project’s design and permitting have been set and the city is opening bids Dec. 12 for construction and to improve the boat basin with some covered slips, seawall and boat ramp. Construction on a new office facility for Coastal Resources could start in early 2020.
The city is also getting $9.7 million from the Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council to build the Auburn University Gulf Coast Engineering Research Station on the land north of the boat basin. West said he expects the center to also need a place to dock boats.
“We want to go ahead and permit out the marina because we expect that Auburn and Alabama will be bringing some level of presence,” West said.
Interactions and research with Auburn officials during the 2010 oil spill cleanup and subsequent studies done along the coast spawned the idea between city and university officials to have a research facility on the coast.
“During that time, we had conversations back and forth where some ideas grew especially when it became apparent that there was going to be an unprecedented amount of funding available for the region as a result, frankly, of the oil spill,” West said.
The city and Auburn recently signed a lease agreement for the property where the research facility will be built.
“We’re initially leasing them the south parcel minus the footprint of our building and improvements for our office,” West said. “If the next phase of the campus or next couple of phases as it moves north provided everyone’s in agreement that we’re moving in the direction the city wants to see which is a campus of higher learning. We will then lease them the balance of the property.”
The property was first bought under Mayor Steve Russo from Astrata Land Company for $7.5 million cash, plus a $2.1 million land swap for lots in the Callaway subdivision, City Administrator Ken Grimes said.
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