ORANGE BEACH, Alabama — The bank-owned retail portion of The Wharf on the Intracoastal Waterway was purchased Tuesday by local and Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based investors.
The buyers, Wharf Retail Properties LLC, would not disclose the price, but the lender was seeking $9 million to $12 million, according to Realtors.
The property included 375,103 square feet of retail and dining space, and 6.5 acres in front of The Wharf off Canal Road.
The purchase was a cash deal, according to Art Favre, whose industrial construction business is based in Baton Rouge. He has had a home and a boat in Orange Beach since 1993 and is active in the local community, he said. He partnered with investor Mark Reed of Daphne to purchase the property.
“I enjoy the area and am excited to be involved in this since I spend so much time here.” This will be his first major retail investment, but he has done other real estate investments around the country.
Reed has invested in numerous real estate projects, most recently partnering with Charter Landing to pay $4.5 million for 842 acres in Bon Secour Village off Baldwin County 4 in Gulf Shores.
The new owners are conducting a national search for a management team and hope to have it in place by Jan. 1, Favre said. “Our goal is to bring in professionals who can do a great master plan for the retail property.”
He hopes most of the tenants will stay, and he has staff talking with tenants now, Favre said. “This will be a great opportunity for everybody. We’re getting feedback from them and plan to work with each individually. We know it’s been a tough time for retailers, not just with The Wharf’s issues, but with the economy. But with the right management and publicity, their success can be significant.”
The retail portion was about 62 percent leased this past summer, according to Jones Lang LaSalle in Atlanta, which represented creditor JP Morgan Chase.
The Wharf opened in 2006, with developers building retail shops, a condominium, a 10,000-seat amphitheater, and 220-slip marina.
In October 2010, Regions Bank bought the music venue, marina and 178 undeveloped acres for $18.16 million at foreclosure auctions.
The city of Orange Beach paid $1.6 million in March to BBVA Compass for the 27,000-square-foot Wharf Conference Center.