Plans to develop the Daphne Innovation and Science Complex (DISC) will move forward after the Daphne City Council approved the annexation of the project’s land into the city Aug. 1.
Mayor Dane Haygood said the city’s industrial development board (IDB) can now execute a $752,000 purchase of 30 acres at the southwest corner of State Highway 181 and Champions Way near Daphne High School. At a previous meeting the City Council pre-zoned the property, but the release of $438,000 in early BP restoration funds for the purchase was contingent upon the property’s annexation into the city.
The IDB, which had a $580,923.87 fund balance in June, will provide the balance needed to complete the purchase. The property is currently owned by The Bills LLC No. 2, an entity registered in Fairhope to Michael C. Bill.
“The project has been in a holding pattern waiting on the annexation,” Haygood said. “Now that the annexation is complete and we sign some documents, that will free up those funds to be used by the IDB to acquire the land.”
Also tied to annexation, the City Council lowered the IDB’s share of lodging tax revenues from 13 percent to 10 percent, with funds diverted to the city’s recreation upgrades.
Haygood declined to set a timeline for the project’s development, but did say it will depend on when the city is able to secure funding for the installation of infrastructure at the site. A report prepared last year by Preble-Rish shows infrastructure costs for the project to be an estimated $1,693,166.95.
The mayor said infrastructure could be funded from several sources, including federal economic development grants, private-sector partners and the IDB’s monthly funds. He said the city may have an update in the next four to six weeks.
“The IDB does have an income stream coming in, but we want to try to leverage that with grant opportunities if we can,” Haygood said. “We have had some interesting discussions and there is a rolling window with no guaranteed date but we are very optimistic about it. There has been strong interest and we’ve received job commitments that exceed 100 jobs from at least three different entities that have indicated they want to locate there.”
Haygood attended the Farnborough International Airshow in July and said he discussed the DISC project with prospective tenants while there. He did not share details of those discussions but said Airbus and companies in its supply chain have shown interest in the community.
“There seems to be discussion between the decision-makers at Airbus and within its supply chain to learn about the surrounding community,” Haygood said. “Those organizations are looking for facilities, places that are set up that they can move into. That puts us at a competitive disadvantage right now, but DISC will help solve that piece of the puzzle.”
The project was promoted to bring white-collar jobs in the technology industry to the city.