Friday, May 18, 2007

Orange Beach To Purchase Bayfront Lots

Orange Beach Council agrees to pay $3.45 million for bayfront lots

Published By Mobile Press Register
Thursday, May 17, 2007

By RYAN DEZEMBERStaff Reporter
ORANGE BEACH -- City officials expect to close a $3.45 million deal for five waterfront lots by the end of the week, giving the city a launch point for its long-desired bridge over Wolf Bay.
The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to pay $3.45 million for the property, and in a separate resolution voted 6-0 to take out a short-term, fixed-rate loan with Vision Bank to buy the 2½ acres.
"This is the first really major step toward building that bridge," Mayor Pete Blalock said.
In early March the council voted to initiate condemnation proceedings against owners of the property, which had previously rejected offers of $2 million. City Attorney Wanda Cochran said the $3.45 million agreement precluded her from filing condemnation papers in Circuit Court.
Once slated for a condominium project, the property is owned by investors working under the name Baldwin County Development LLC. According to Baldwin County Probate records, the limited liability company paid $3.5 million for the property in April 2004.
The owners face foreclosure on the property and have asked that the deal be closed on Friday, city officials said.
Negotiating a sale of the property outside of court keeps the city on its timeline for building the bridge, the mayor said. City officials have said that completion of a bridge is probably about 10 years away but could come about sooner.
A recent city-commissioned study found that a bridge over Wolf Bay and a road linking it to a major east-west highway could cost between $80 million and $110 million, depending upon how far the northbound road extends.
The study also found that if the span were a toll bridge, it could generate enough revenue to entice private investment.
Such a span would create an additional hurricane evacuation route from Baldwin's beaches in addition to linking Orange Beach to thousands of undeveloped acres and miles of pristine waterfront.
City Administrator Jeff Moon said that municipal officials are pursuing a plan to build the bridge with private funds and that if such a deal were struck, the city could ask to be repaid for the 2½ acres.
Otherwise, city officials will probably have to decide whether to extend the loan from Vision Bank when it expires next May, or roll the cost into a future bond issue.
Under terms of the financing agreement the council approved on Tuesday, Orange Beach will have to make quarterly interest payments at a rate of 7.75 percent but will not be required to pay the principal until the loan expires, Moon said.
In a memo to council members, Moon said the 7.75 interest rate is subject to the city depositing $6.6 million, which it plans to collect in a coming bond issue and use as a base for a permanent reserve fund, at Vision Bank for six months.
Moon said he had no problem with that plan because the savings interest rate Vision has offered, 5.15 percent, beats rates other banks have offered the city.


Post a Comment

<< Home