The 1929 office building at the corner of St. Joseph and St. Francis streets was the city’s tallest structure for 36 years but has since been overshadowed by several other newer high-rise developments downtown. But the historic building will breathe new life as a $30 million renovation of the building gets underway. Beginning in 2018, the former Merchants National Bank building and four buildings surrounding the historic high-rise will begin the transformation into a massive 225,000 square foot mixed-use development that will include commercial, office, and residential space. The 18-story building at 56 St. Francis Street was built in 1929 and was the former home of Merchants National Bank of Mobile and, most recently, anchored by Regions Bank.
Plans for the nearly one-acre site include 82 loft apartments, 80,000 square feet of Class A office space, 26,000 square feet of ground floor commercial, restaurant, and retail space, and a 196-space parking garage. The properties were purchased by Memphis, TN-based Heritage Land & Development, a development company that specializes in renovating historically significant structures. The development group said they plan to redevelop the property similar to properties they have previously completed in Tuscaloosa, AL, Chattanooga, TN, and Columbia, SC. “Downtown Mobile has so much rich history, and we are thrilled to be working on a project here,” said Yandell. “I am confident in this project and excited about being a part of downtown Mobile’s energy. According to the developers, nearly 400 employees will work in the office building and 100 or more residents are expected to live in the apartments to be built in the historic high-rise building.
Stephen McNair of Mobile-based McNair Historic Preservation is advising the developer in the redevelopment of the property as the developer capitalizes on federal and state historic tax credit programs. “Merchants National Bank is one of the most architecturally significant structures in Alabama,” said McNair. “We are honored to be included on the team that will restore and adaptively re-use this landmark and contribute to the revitalization of downtown Mobile.”
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