Orange Beach buys land for new public beach access, restaurant, bar and green space
The coastal town of Orange Beach in Alabama is swapping two planned high-rise buildings for public beach access, a green space, restaurant and bar.
The city announced Friday that it is teaming up with two co-owners of Flora-Bama, a famous bar on the Alabama-Florida border, to purchase 8.7 acres of oceanfront property to create access to the beach for “residents” on the Ala highway. 161 from Publix to The Shoppes in Palm Pointe.
Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon said in a press release the deal was a “watershed moment and historic investment” for the seaside town of about 6,200 residents.
“This is a premier Gulf front property that beachgoers see first when driving south,” Kennon said. “Instead of a high rise development, we will have this family-friendly waterfront to accommodate visitors with a first-class low-rise restaurant with lots of open space, and also an urban beach for our residents, who sacrifice a lot every summer. .
Kennon told AL.com on Saturday that the completed project would be comparable to public beach access at Gulf Shores.
“I see it’s very similar to that,” Kennon said. “They’ve been fortunate enough to own this property for many years, and we’ve just never been able to get anything in Orange Beach of this nature, but I see it working essentially the same.”
Kennon also compared the planned restaurant and bar to some familiar Alabama Coast favorites.
“It will be something in the style of Lulu’s, the Hangout, it will be the same type of restaurant,” he said. “It’s going to be cool, it’s going to be upscale and have a really attractive look, so I think that’s a great amenity for the city.”
Kennon said he hoped the parking lot and beach access could be ready by next summer, with the restaurant opening by spring 2023.
No 30 story skyscrapers
The properties had been slated for two high-rise buildings, which would have had 37 and 36 stories, the city said in a Press release announcing the purchase. The city’s waterfront already has several high-rise buildings or hotels, and Kennon said the city is increasingly concerned about traffic and infrastructure.
“We were very scared with hundreds and hundreds of condominiums in two 30-story buildings it was going to be a traffic nightmare,” Kennon said. “So it’s done a lot of things in different ways, and I think it will make things better for everyone. “
According to the statement, the city finalized its purchase of land comprising 400 feet of waterfront on Wednesday, while Orange Beach Land Company, LLC, owned by Flora-Bama co-owners John McInnis and Cameron Price, purchased the adjacent property. for a bar. and a restaurant which will be managed under the CoastAL brand.
CoastAL’s development will consist of three single-storey buildings: a 20,000 square foot restaurant, a 5,000 square foot commercial building and a 3,000 square foot outdoor bar. The buildings will surround a 15,000 square foot outdoor promenade and green space, and parking will be shared with the city.
There will be a historic 40-foot tower built along the beach road, with “pedestrian-friendly trails on the property,” the statement said.
The total cost of purchasing the town was $ 13 million, with just under $ 10 million prepaid and the remainder owed once improvements to the property were made.
As part of the deal, developers will build all improvements on town property, such as paving of the parking lot, lighting, construction of toilets and a lifeguard area, a promenade and boardwalks. in the dunes to the beach, then the city will take possession of the improvements.
“We are excited to start turning our vision into reality,” McInnis and Price said in a press release. “We love that the general public has access to over 800 feet of waterfront and that Orange Beach residents finally have free priority parking on the Gulf.
“What Gulf Shores has in the public space on the beach is wonderful and now Orange Beach residents will have something very much like it.”
Parking reserved for residents, restaurant customers
The two establishments will share a car park, along the beach road.
Kennon said some of the parking spaces will be reserved for Orange Beach residents for free use, with another allocation for restaurant patrons, although details have yet to be finalized.
“We have yet to determine what will happen with our out of town people,” Kennon said. “We’re going to work with the private partners and find something where if they’re there for the day and they buy lunch or something, they’ll probably validate their parking lot.”
He said the restaurant and beach access also expected to see a lot of foot traffic from the beach and people parking elsewhere.
“We see it as a really nice gathering place, a place where locals and tourists can relax during the day,” Kennon said. “And we just see it as a great convenience all around.”