Lieutenant Dan got me invested in some kind of fruit company. So then I got a call from him, saying we don't have to worry about money no more. And I said, that's good! One less thing.
"Real estate developer Tim James says he wants to bulldoze downtown. But in a good way. James announced a $200 million plan last week to remake this gritty seafood town, long down on its luck, into a tourist destination, a French Coast village with condos and spas, where rusty shrimp boats rumble by waterfront boardwalks, fish markets and trendy coffee shops."
"This week, James said, he expects to begin the public process of buying Bayou La Batre's city-owned docks at Portersville Bay and the 2,770 feet of waterfront property surrounding them. Mayor Stan Wright said the city will get an estimate on the value of the property inside the next month or so. The process could last six months and will involve public meetings, Wright said.
[...]We're willing to pay the city at least $8 million for it. If their estimate comes in over that, we'll pay more, but if it's below that, we'll hold the floor at $8 million," James said.
That figure is four times the annual budget of this city of 2,300.
The city's debt is $2.4 million, almost entirely made up by the remainder of a 1997 bond issue to pay for a $4 million deepening of the Bayou's ship channel, city officials said Friday. The land deal would easily pay off that debt and shore up the city for a long time to come, Wright said.
"If this deal happens, we'll lower the business license fee and remove the 1-cent diesel fuel tax. It will change everything," Wright said.
Even more lucrative for the city, James' group would pay $15 million to build a new, city-owned sewage processing plant. The existing plant is already strained beyond its capacity and is currently under a court-ordered mandate to improve facilities and eliminate spills.
[...]Under James' plan, much of downtown -- which has been largely vacant for years -- would be bulldozed and replaced by a French Colonial park with flower gardens and walkways under the shade of live oaks. This would be the City Park District, and it would be owned and maintained by the city."
[...]We're trying to get ahead of the ball and go over our ordinances before this comes along," said Tommy Reynoso, the town's building inspector and a member of the commission. "We've never dealt with anything like this. Not many cities our size have."
Here's the article from the Mobile Register.