Friday, June 30, 2006

New Name for Riverwalk

Riverwalk in Orange Beach has been renamed Bama Bayou, developers of the project on the Intracoastal Waterway announced Thursday.

Representatives from Joe Raley Builders and The Mitchell Co. announced the new title for their now $300 million-plus project on the Intracoastal Waterway, just off the Foley Beach Express.

What had been an $85 million development with about 300 condominium units, a water park and some meeting space has expanded to more than 1,100 units, a water park that developers said will rank among the top 15 in North America and a 68,000-square-foot convention center, according to developer Scott Raley with Joe Raley Builders.

Construction had slowed while plans were expanded, but the work schedule should soon be back up to speed, said Paul Wesch, executive vice president of The Mitchell Co.

"When you take a convention center from 20,000 square feet to 68,000 square feet, it requires a whole new set of architectural plans. We literally had to scrap the old plans and start over," said Wesch.

Rebecca Wilson, marketing coordinator for the project, said some of the development may open in late 2007 and the remainder should be completed in 2008.

The project will also include shops, cafes, restaurants and a 1,000-seat amphitheater: Gulf World on the Bama Bayou property will include live performances by dolphins, sea lions and tropical birds and the opportunity for guests to swim with the dolphins, according to the statement.

The development is being built on about 150 acres. The Orange Beach City Council sold 144 acres of the site to the developers.

City officials agreed in 2002 to sell developers 42 acres for $1.7 million and lease 97 acres for $1 a year provided Raley and Mitchell would build a tax-generating tourist attraction. Developers later decided to buy the entire site for $12 million, according to reports.

Bama Bayou is adjacent to The Wharf, another condominium, retail and entertainment complex that opened in May on the south side of the Intracoastal.

Monday, June 12, 2006


June 09, 2006
Looking for beach front property along the gulf? If you are, local realtors say the market is ripe for the pickings. Prices on condos and gulf-front homes in areas like Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan are dropping, and some of the savings can add up to more than $100-thousand. NBC 15's Baldwin County Reporter Leon Petite has details in this report.

Remember what the real estate market was like just before and just after Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina? Beach front homes were selling like hot cakes. You heard a lot of terms like "condo flipping" being talked about up and down the beach. Property owners were selling condos before they were even built. In some cases, they were selling for more than what they were actually worth, but a lot has changed at the beach. Real Estate officials say prices are coming back down to earth.

Orange Beach condo owner Rick Myers:
"Ours isn't for sale, of course, but you watch it all the time and what I've seen is about $100-thousand off of their peak. We have a three bedroom, two bath unit and they were running about $700-thousand and the last one's that have sold were around $600-grand."

Real Estate officials attribute several reasons for the market change; Insurance rates, storms, and of course a flood of inventory with all the development taking place along the gulf. Although prices have come down a bit, realtors say things are beginning to level off to a more realistic climate which in the long run is good for everyone.

Bob Malone is with ERA

"For someone who wants to come down and buy a condominium, this is a perfect time. It is a buyers market. We're getting back into a more normal condition and we feel good."

While real estate prices at the beach have come down a bit, appraisers say the residential market in other areas of Baldwin County, like Foley, Robertsdale and Daphne is continuing to steadily grow.

Real estate officials say beach condos are going for about $350 a square foot. A year ago, many of those same properties sold for more than $400 a square foot.