Orange Beach will build marina east of Sportsman
City hires McCollough Architecture to design the first building
By John Mullen
The first move may seem like baby steps, but Coastal Resources Director Phillip West envisions big things for city-owned property on Terry Cove.
At the Jan. 16 city council work session, the city of Orange Beach discussed initial moves it is planning to bring development to the former Walker Marina property east of Sportsman Marina. The city bought the waterfront parcel in 2005 and uses it now for a disc golf course and a dog park.
Two firms will be hired to design and get the permitting settled to improve the boat basin with some covered slips, seawall, boat ramp and an office and storage building. The cost of this initial project at the property will be about $1.5 million, West said.
“We need to find a place to house our marine operations, initially our Coastal Resources operations, and the new historic vessel, the Sea Duster,” West said. “We want to go ahead and permit out the marina because we expect that Auburn and Alabama will be bringing some level of presence. Initially, pretty light and eventually we anticipate that whole property being built out as a research campus.”
To that end, West said, Auburn is going through the RESTORE Act process trying to secure about $9 million to build a 20,000- to a 25,000-square foot research facility on the property.
“The Auburn-led research project has gone through the first round of RESTORE and is in the second round of evaluations,” West said. “That would be a $9 million project that would follow this one. But that’s best case, a couple of years down the road.
But for now, the focus will be on the boat basin improvements and the city’s building. “We, initially, need a place for our three vessels and the Sea Duster as well as offices for Coastal Resources staff,” West said. “And, offices for the immediate needs of the universities and whoever else might want to have that type of access.
“We’ll go ahead and permit 10 slips, but right now we’re going to build four, three with boat lifts, all covered slips. And get the office building which will have storage space, lab space, meeting space. All that built in. That’s our short-term need.”
To start that process, the city will sign a personal services contract with McCollough Architecture to design the first building for the site. West said he anticipates immediate interest from universities so the size of the building isn’t set.
“We gave them a range because over the next few weeks we’re going to know if we have immediate tenants or not,” West said. “Basically, a minimum of 2,500 square feet up to 4,500 square feet. If the universities can immediately have offices and lab space then that’s just going to facilitate all the projects we work on together. And plan to work on. Some of those being considered are under RESTORE and NRDA as well.”
Work on the marina and other infrastructure will be done through TTL, a firm the city keeps on retainer to help with projects.
“We gave them a task order to do the design and permitting of the seawall, boardwalk, piers, slips and lifts,” West said. “We’re going to install a boat launch for us there and they’ll handle that as well.”
West said he hopes the work can be completed before the end of the year and would like to get started by as earlier as April. The city bought the five-acre parcel after Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
“I don’t know if we’ll be able to occupy it in 2018 but we’ve got to get going,” he said.
The property was first bought under Mayor Steve Russo from Astrata Land Company for $7.5 million cash, $2.1 million land swap for lots in the Callaway subdivision on Canal Road for a total value of $9.6 million, City Administrator Ken Grimes said.