Downtown Mobile apartment complex ‘on track’ for summer opening

Seen from the north, the Meridian at the Port apartment complex in downtown Mobile is a major presence.

Mobile’s biggest downtown apartment development since the 1950s is on track to open in a few months, and already is transforming the skyline.

"It’s starting to take shape," said Mike Rogers, president of construction management firm Rogers & Willard, said of the 267-unit Meridian at the Port development. "You couldn’t have planned it any better, as to what you wanted it to look like when Meridian opened."

In and of itself, the complex’s location on the east side of Water Street north of the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center makes it a standout. Seen from the street it’s imposing; seen from the north, it redefines the first look that visitors coming off I-165 get of the Port City.

Seen from the north, the Meridian at the Port apartment complex being built on Water Street in Mobile stands out.

Rogers’ comment referred to changes that have come to the area since ground was broken for the $51 million project in August 2017. Water Street now has bike lanes. A brand new brewpub, Iron Hand, has recently opened nearby in the scenic DeTonti Square neighborhood. Explosively fast redevelopment of the St. Louis Street corridor is putting more downtown action closer to the complex. One example Rogers cited is Innovation PortAL, an innovation and entrepreneurial hub being developed by the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation. A groundbreaking for that project will be held Feb. 27.

St. Louis St. projects also includes two other developing breweries, Old Majestic and Braided River, as well as residential space, with the Wheeler Lofts now leasing. Factor in other new downtown residential developments such as the renovated Staples-Pake Building and the redevelopment of Merchant’s Plaza, and it’s clear that Meridian residents won’t lack for company.

On Tuesday, Mobile’s executive director of public safety, James Barber, told reporters that the Mobile Police Department is upgrading its downtown Special Events station from a mini-precinct to a full-fledged precinct with higher-ranking leadership and more manpower.

The main reason for the change, Barber said, is that the city wants the public safety infrastructure to be in place ahead of the anticipated residential boom. The change in status of the precinct becomes official March 2.

Meanwhile, Meridian is transforming what had been a semi-dormant industrial and warehouse landscape. “People said we were crazy” when Meridian was announced, Rogers said. Its location struck many as a no-man’s land but “now it feels like an extension of downtown,” he said.

“We’re really excited about everything going on in downtown Mobile,” seconded Stewart Speed, president of Leaf River Group, a partner in the project with Bristol Development Group. Speed said that promising developments includes office development along St. Louis, such as the decision by Precision Engineering to redevelop the former Threaded Fasteners property as its headquarters. Like Rogers, he said the rise of Meridian also seems to be prompting interesting in other former industrial properties around the complex.

"We’re basically on track" toward a projected 2019 opening, Speed said. "Our first unit should be delivered in late May or June," he said, with the remained coming online within a few months after that.

Meridian’s 267 units will include studio, one-bedroom and 2-bedroom apartments. Speed said developers haven’t yet revealed rental rates, but that pre-sale leasing probably will start in March.

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