MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A downtown mobile building that’s been vacant for decades could soon see some new life.
This project has been in the works for years, but with money coming from the American Rescue Plan, it could close a needed financial gap. The plan includes turning the old Gayfer’s building into 94 low-income housing units. The bottom floor would be set up for business use.
“What we have is a building that has been abandoned for over 40 years, and every year that goes by that it is not rehabilitated it will cost more money,” Mayor Stimpson said in his town hall on Friday.
The city has already received $29.1 million of the $58 million from the American Rescue Plan.
The mayor plans to use $8 million of that money to help with the $25-million project renovating the building. The non-profit developer, Gulf Coast Housing Partnerships, will double every dollar the city puts into the project.
The mayor said his goal is to make it affordable for people who work downtown to also live there, and some Mobilians are for it.
“I think it’s a great idea. I think the affordable housing will bring in other people, and that maybe even necessarily work,” Nicolas Dalessandro said.
And others don’t see it working, like fellow Mobilian Howard Edwards. “I think it will hurt the businesses that are down here presently… I just don’t see it working. I think it’s a bad idea.”
The mayor says this will be a big impact on downtown. “We’re hoping that everyone understands the significance of what this will do for the city of Mobile and also the downtown area.”
With the building being vacant for so many years, the renovations, if a normal developer would take it over, would cost more than any profit, Stimpson said, so, he feels this is the best option.
“This is the only way in our opinion that this building, which is in the heart of downtown on Bienville Square that takes up about half a city block, can be rehabilitated in the next 20 years,” Stimpson said.
The mayor will share his plans with the city council’s finance committee on Tuesday, June 29.