Mobile Civic Center finalist withdraws redevelopment plans

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — One of the two companies the Mobile City Council heard pitch its redevelopment plans for the Civic Center withdrew its name as a prospective candidate.

Sterling Properties sent a letter to CBRE, the advisory services used by the city, saying why the company is pulling out of the race. In the beginning of the letter, Vice President of Sterling Properties, William Barrois, says, “The decision to withdraw from a project that we wholeheartedly believe will have a lasting impact on the Mobile community for years to come was difficult.”

Sterling feels the project has changed dramatically beyond what the company considered when initially deciding to get involved. The letter also addresses the competing company’s proposal saying, “we believe that our competitor responded in a radically different way than we did to the Request for Proposal, making comparisons of proposals challenging to say the least.”

Following Sterling’s presentation to Mobile’s City Council on July 15, Sterling says, “We received correspondence from CBRE asking us how our proposal would change if the event center were not required for Mardi Gras and/or other events.” In other words, the company the City is using to help the project asked Sterling about removing the arena from its plans.

Sterling said, “our response was simply that we believe an events center of some scale is necessary to activate this part of downtown Mobile and to achieve all of the City’s objectives.”

The letter from Sterling continues saying, “The movement away from the civic center facility was underscored by the presentation that CBRE made to the City council on July 15th. It seemed clear that the Mayor and CBRE favored a competing proposal that did not include an events center but did have a commercial outdoor entertainment district product.”

Additionally, Sterling said in the letter, it was the only company to provide financial information for the cost of the project. The letter states, “We also learned that we were the only team to include a full financial pro forma or articulate an amount of public support required. We continue to believe that this was a requirement of the RFP (Request for Proposal). We feel that it is difficult to compare these proposals; one is a public-private partnership around an active community asset with a full financial model, and the other is a commercial development with funding details and public support requirements as-yet-unspecified.”

In response, the City of Mobile sent News 5 this statement, “The Civic Center represents a major development opportunity and our goal is to find a world-class partner who can deliver a winning plan for our citizens. 
We appreciate Stirling’s interest in Mobile and we are disappointed they chose to withdraw. While we cannot compel companies to compete, we are committed to an open and fair competition. The process will continue and we remain confident that we will find a winning bidder who shares our bold vision for this transformational project.”

Read the full letter below:

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