Local developers and economic development officials will host a groundbreaking ceremony at the South Alabama Logistics Park (SALP) Wednesday, and begin clearing land for the $350 million development where they hope to attract warehouse, distribution and manufacturing operations to the 1,300-acre site on the southwest corner of Interstate 10 and Theodore Dawes Road. A project of Burton Property Group, SALP was publicly unveiled in April, before agreements were reached with potential utility providers.
In May, the proposal prompted a lawsuit from the Mobile County Water, Sewer and Fire Protection Authority (MCWS), a rural utility who claimed the development was within its service territory. But developers had conditionally agreed to purchase both water and sewer services from the Mobile Area Water and Sewer System (MAWSS), although MAWSS had no existing service within a mile of the site.
At a meeting of the MAWSS Board of Directors earlier this month, commissioners entered an agreement for MCWS to provide water to the site, while MAWSS will provide sewer services.
Phase 1 of the project will include more than six million square feet of “speculative sites” as well as offering a build-to-suit option, according to a statement from the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce.
“Features include Class A industrial warehouse and distribution space for the growing number of shippers and light manufacturers that need to locate in close proximity to either the Port of Mobile or Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley,” the statement said. “The project comes as a result of a three-year collaborative effort between the Alabama State Port Authority, Burton Property Group, City of Mobile, Mobile County and the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce.”
In its lawsuit, MCWS claimed MAWSS’ alleged infringement into its service territory would affect its ability to repay a $1.2 million federally secured loan. The smaller utility claimed MAWSS offered Burton Property Group “significant financial incentives … in a conspiratorial attempt to damage Mobile County Water. MAWSS has required that Burton Property Group utilize MAWSS’s water service as a condition of utilizing MAWSS’s sewer service, effectively extorting Burton Property Group into contracting for water service with MAWSS.”
In late July, the court record reflects “the parties reached an agreement to resolve the claims,” and entered a joint stipulation of dismissal. Board members at both utilities later approved the three-year agreement, which allows MCWS to provide water service, but it also requires it to build and maintain all sewer infrastructure within the park, although MAWSS will treat the sewage, and get paid for it. MCWS will also be responsible for MAWSS’ billing within the park.
The agreement also specifies the lawsuit will be dismissed. Parties for MAWSS or MCWS did not respond to requests for additional comment.
Wednesday morning’s groundbreaking ceremony begins at 8 a.m. off Interstate-10 near the Theodore Dawes exit, just south of the Amazon sortation center in South Mobile County. Representatives of Burton Property Group, Mobile County, the city of Mobile, Alabama Port Authority and Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce will host the event.
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