University of South Alabama Foundation Agrees in Principle to Sell Portion of Brookley Property
Sale Can Be Catalyst for Economic Development
M O B I L E— The University of South Alabama Foundation has agreed in principle to sell property it owns near Brookley Aeroplex to a real estate development company, its Board of Directors announced today.
The Foundation, whose mission is to support the University of South Alabama and its academic programs, has signed a Letter of Intent with 24/7 Development Partners of Alabama, LLC, under which the developer would pay $45 million for roughly 290 acres located between Mobile Bay and the Mobile Downtown Airport, pending a survey and other due diligence.
Under the agreement, the Foundation will retain ownership of roughly 31 acres of wetlands and another 10 acres along the periphery of the environmentally sensitive area.
The retained acreage will become a Wetlands Preservation Area, protected from commercial development. The prospective buyer has also expressed their intention to substantially preserve the property’s shoreside wetlands that lie outside the Wetlands Preservation Area.
The Foundation acquired the property in 2010 and later adopted a set of objectives to ensure it maximizes the return achieved on its valuable asset.
Board of Directors President Hon. John McMillan said the Foundation’s Audit and Investment Committee evaluated all of the options before it, with the benefit of an analysis from a real estate consulting firm, and made a recommendation to the Board, which the Board voted to accept.
“As Foundation Board members, we have a legal duty to use each of our assets to the fullest, in order to further our mission of supporting the University. We believe we can do that in a way that also benefits the environment, the City of Mobile, and the larger community,” Mr. McMillan said.
McMillan said the sale of the land can be a catalyst for economic growth and development at Brookley and throughout the region.
“The proper development of this property will bring new businesses to the Mobile area and encourage existing ones to expand. With light industry and a mixed-use approach, as envisioned by the prospective buyer, this roughly 300-acre site can complement what is already a vibrant Brookley Aeroplex, located just seven minutes from downtown Mobile,” Mr. McMillan said.
24/7 Development Partners of Alabama is a wholly owned subsidiary of a Tampa based company. The firm’s principals have significant construction and development experience. They have successfully completed projects in 44 states and are currently working on multiple projects throughout Florida and Alabama.
The Foundation has created a website about its plans for the property, at BrookleyProperty.org.
Foundation Managing Director Maxey Roberts said preservation of the wetlands on the northeast corner of the site is so important the Foundation decided to retain ownership of that portion of the property.
“We believe it is vitally important that the wetlands be preserved and protected. By retaining that portion, we can ensure it remains free of commercial development into the future,” Ms. Roberts said.
“Both the 30-acre wetlands themselves and a 10-acre area adjacent to them will be protected in the Wetlands Preservation Area and could become the basis for an environmentally-friendly urban park in the future,” she said.
Wetlands are known to be important to the overall ecology of the Bay, inland rivers, and the Gulf of Mexico. Science has demonstrated that wetlands help purify water quality and mitigate pollution, while protecting fragile species and reducing the impacts of flooding.
Foundation President McMillan said 24/7 Development Partners will have roughly six months to perform its due diligence prior to an anticipated closing later in the year.
“We are confident that the path we have embarked upon, once it reaches its conclusion, can represent a win for everyone,” Mr. McMillan said.
“The Foundation can fulfill its mission and legal duty to maximize return, provide environmental benefits from a new Wetlands Preservation Area, and support the City of Mobile and Mobile Airport Authority with benefits from major private investment. The citizens of Mobile and surrounding communities benefit from this economic development, with jobs and new corporate tax revenues,” he said.
Additional information regarding the Foundation’s Brookley property, the Wetlands Preservation Area, and 24/7 Development Partners can be found on the Web at BrookleyProperty.org.
# # #