Sale of The Wharf’s retail area finalized

Wharf.jpgThe retail portion of The Wharf in Orange Beach was purchased by investors. A new management team will be hired. (Press-Register/Victor Calhoun)

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.

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Brookwood Medical Center buys 2 doctors’ offices, plans new clinic in McCalla

brookwood medical aerial -411.jpgAerial photo of Brookwood Medical Center.

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Brookwood Medical Center has acquired two doctors’ practices and intends to open a new occupational medicine clinic in McCalla, Chief Executive Garry Gause said.

Brookwood has acquired the family practice of Drs. Eric Solomon and Vicki Moore, located at Alabama 119 and U.S. 31, and the practice of Dr. Bonnie Armour, on 20th Avenue South in Homewood. The terms of the acquisitions were not disclosed.

The new occupational medicine clinic will be located near Interstate 459 in McCalla to serve that area’s growing industrial base, Gause said in a statement to The Birmingham News.

“Occupational medicine continues to be a need in our state, especially as our economy grows in the area of industry and manufacturing,” he said.

The new clinic in McCalla will be run by Dr. Kevin Staudinger, Gause said.

The hospital also has completed the previously-announced acquisition of Cardiovascular Associates, a 28-doctor practice that will be based in a 70,000-square- foot building now under construction near the Colonnade shopping center.

“We’re glad to finalize the last details on this strategic partnership with CVA,” Gause said.

Gause has said that the CVA deal was driven by changes expected to result from government-mandated health reform. New regulations likely will penalize providers for inadequately coordinating care by denying Medicare claims for patients who are readmitted too soon after being discharged. Close relationships between hospitals and practices will result in fewer unnecessary readmissions by better coordinating out-patient and in-patient care, he said.

The CVA deal also was expected to lower the practice’s costs through economies of scale, by giving it more clout to negotiate prices for supplies and equipment. The CVA acquisition should be “virtually transparent” to the 46,000 patients seen by the practice annually, Gause said.

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On the Move: Colin Dean, Scott Minear, Grayson Hall and more

Colin Dean.jpgColin Dean


Sirote Permutt said Colin Dean has joined the firm’s Mortgage Litigation Practice Group in Birmingham.

Dean, who graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law in 2011, handles general litigation matters, including business disputes and noncompetition issues. He also has clients on mortgage and title issues.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. said Scott Minear has been named general manager of its Bessemer location. Minear has been with the company since August 2010, most recently as part of the management team in Gardendale. Before joining Cracker Barrel, he had 22 years experience in the restaurant industry.


Regions Financial Corp. said CEO Grayson Hall will make a presentation at the 2011 Goldman Sachs Financial Services Conference at 12:10 p.m. on Dec. 6. Comments and a related slide presentation will be available through a live, listen-only webcast. To listen, visit the Investor Relations page at


Maynard, Cooper Gale P.C. said shareholder Joseph “Jodie” E. Smith has been named chair of the Securities Law and Disclosure Committee of the National Association of Bond Lawyers. As chair, Smith advises NABL directors on developments in federal securities laws and on disclosure practices relating to municipal securities.

Smith’s practice areas at Maynard, Cooper Gale include public finance, securities, health care and general corporate.


St. Vincent’s Health System said Dr. Carol Jefferson Ratcliffe, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing executive for St. Vincent’s East, has been inducted into the Alabama Nursing Hall of Fame. St. Vincent’s said Ratcliffe has more than 20 years of progressive health care management experience, 14 of those as a vice president.

• The Court Appointed Special Advocates of Jefferson County, or CASA, has named four new board members. They are: Jef Freeman of Wells Fargo Financial Advisors; Lt. Colonel Lydia Mathis, USAF (Ret.); Mary Hill, retired assistant city manager of Reno, Nev.; and Janis Sorrell, retired principal probation officer for Jefferson County Family Court assigned to the programs division.


Momentum, a leadership development program for women, has named 28 participants for its 2011-12 class.

Some of them are: Jennifer Bailey of ACIPCO; Christine Baker of Alabama Power; Amy Beard of Brookwood Medical Center; Teresa DuPree Bragg of UAB; Stacey Bryan of Bryan Associates; Hope Thai Cannon of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings; Patty Cobb of Vulcan Materials; Rebecca Collier of BBVA Compass; Cynthia Coyle of ArchitectureWorks LLP; Lynn Elgin of Clarus Consulting Group; Rebekah Elgin-Council of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama; Mary Elliott of Warren Averett; Shirley Fagan of O’Neal Industries; and Monique Gardner-Witherspoon of Girls Inc. of Central Alabama.

Mayflower, the van line company, has named Simplicity Relocation LLC of Alabaster to its Million Dollar Club Award, $1 million level, recognizing it among Mayflower’s top revenue producers.

Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis Miles P.C. said it has been recognized by LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell as one of the top ranked law firms in the United States, as determined by the firm’s percentage of AV Preeminent-rated lawyers.

Mail announcements to On the Move, The Birmingham News, P.O. Box 2553, Birmingham, AL 35202, email text and JPEG photographs (150 KB minimum, with the file name including the person’s name) to, or fax to 325-3282. You can also follow the instructions under “On the Move” at

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Alabama stocks soar as Wall Street rallies on central bank action

nyse.JPGTraders at the New York Stock Exchange are shown in this photo.BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Shares of most Alabama-based companies are soaring this morning as stocks on Wall Street zoomed upward after major central banks around the world acted to avert a credit crunch. At one point, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had climbed more than 400 points.

Birmingham-based Regions Financial Corp. was a big mover, with shares rising 6.4 percent to $3.92 in early trading.

Stocks of other major Birmingham companies also moved higher. Energen Corp. was up 4.9 percent to $51.22, and Protective Life was up 4.3 percent to $21.60. Vulcan Materials Co. saw its shares rise 4.6 percent to $31.88. HealthSouth jumped 3.3 percent to $16.79 in early trading.

Huntsville’s Adtran Inc. was up 5.6 percent to $32.21.

Mobile’s BancTrust Financial Group bucked the trend, falling 2.5 percent to $1.58 in early trading.

The overall market moved higher after the central banks of Europe, the U.S., Britain, Canada, Japan and Switzerland eased banks’ access to dollars by reducing their borrowing rates. The move responds to fears that a European country would default, touching off a credit crunch similar to what followed the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Banks need dollars to fund their daily operations. Their access dried up as U.S. money market funds reduced their lending to European banks, according to The Associated Press.

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U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge denies two main Jefferson County receiver arguments

John Young 100927John S. Young, a New Jersey native and waterworks executive, is in control Jefferson County environmental services department. (Birmingham News Photo Linda Stelter)BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Court-appointed sewer Receiver John Young has been partially thwarted in his attempts to retain control of the Jefferson County sanitary system.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Thomas Bennett
ruled late Monday that arguments based on two key legal principles cited by Young have been denied.

The fight is over whether Jefferson County’s automatic stay stemming from its record Chapter 9 filing this month apply to Young. He was appointed by a state court judge last year to run the insolvent sewers and says his power cannot be legally curbed.

Friday is the deadline for additional written arguments on the matter.

Specifically rejected Monday were Young’s citations of the Rooker-Feldman doctrine and the Johnson Act of 1934.

Rooker-Feldman is the legal principle by which federal courts are not allowed to interfere with the legally proper actions of state courts.

The Johnson Act prevents federal courts from participating in the rate-setting mechanisms of state-regulated utilities.

Bennett rejected claims on both without comment or discussion in his denial.

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Atlanta Capital Group to open office in Birmingham

Millican,David.jpgDavid Millican is a University of Alabama graduate.BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Atlanta Capital Group, an independent wealth adviser, said it will open an office this year in Birmingham.

The Birmingham office will be the Atlanta-based firm’s third, after a second location that opened this year in St. Simons, Ga. the firm was founded in 2002 by principals David Millican, Jeff Shaver and Jody Young.

Strategic acquisitions and expansions have allowed the firm to expand its assets under advisement from $82 million to more than $650 million in 2011, it said.

“Our all-encompassing approach, which combines investment strategies and financial planning, is what people are looking for in these uncertain times,” Millican, Atlanta Capital Group’s principal managing partner, said in a statement.

Millican is a University of Alabama graduate.

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Israeli company will open auto plastics plant in Auburn

Auburn Mayor Bill Ham.jpgAuburn Mayor Bill HamBIRMINGHAM, Alabama — The Economic Development Partnership of Alabama says Arkal Plastic Products will invest more than $7 million to set up a plant in Auburn to produce plastic parts for the automotive industry. The project will create 25 jobs.

The EDPA said the Israeli company will open its first U.S. manufacturing operation under the name of Arkal Automotive USA Inc. in a 32,000-square-foot facility now under construction in Auburn Technology Park West. The plant could eventually be expanded to 110,000 square feet.

“It is a good day for Auburn when a technology-driven company is planning to invest and hire people in our community,” Mayor Bill Ham said in the EDPA statement.

Arkal already has a Canadian facility that primarily serves the automotive cluster in Michigan and Ontario. The Auburn facility will focus on supplying car manufacturers in and around Alabama, the EDPA said.

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Birmingham area merchants say Black Friday crowds beat expectations

Galleria 11/25/11

Betsy Holloway was enticed to do something she hadn’t done in a long time — brave the big crowds and go shopping on Black Friday.

“For the first time in a long time, I really shopped hard” at the Summit and Colonial Brookwood Village, said Holloway, an associate professor of marketing at Samford University’s Brock School of Business.

Holloway was among the thousands of Birmingham area residents in a shopping mood over the Thanksgiving weekend, helping merchants to surpass expectations for sales during the official start of the all-important holiday shopping season, according to officials at area retail centers.

The Summit on U.S. 280 was packed for much of the weekend, from Toys R Us and the Gap’s 9 p.m. opening Thanksgiving night through Sunday evening, according to Elisa Nelson, marketing manager. A record eight stores in The Summit opened at midnight for Black Friday, and Belk joined others in opening earlier than normal at 3 a.m. that morning, she said.

“We’ve gotten great feedback from many of our retailers, who said they outperformed last year,” Nelson said.

Jennifer Morgan, marketing director at The Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, said the mall was also busy over the weekend. “It was probably more crowded than I’ve seen over the past few years,” she said.

The story was repeated across the nation. The National Retail Federation said Monday that U.S. consumers spent a record $52.4 billion in stores or online during the Thanksgiving weekend period. Retail sales climbed 16 percent and shoppers spent $398.62 on average, up from $365.34 a year earlier, according to the organization, which cited a survey from BIGresearch.

Nancy Dennis, spokeswoman for the Alabama Retail Association, said many of the group’s members reported brisk sales as well over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. She said experts project Cyber Monday online sales nationally to match or surpass the record $1 billion in purchases made a year ago.

“We are hoping Black Friday was the kickoff of a great holiday sales season,” Dennis said Monday.

Holloway said a combination of deeper discounts and earlier opening hours probably fueled more shoppers to go out scouring for deals.

“What’s newsworthy is that we saw such big double-digit sales growth, 16 percent, over last year according to the National Retail Federation,” she said. “That’s phenomenal.”

Holloway said she will be curious whether web sales on Cyber Monday will be able to match those from Black Friday, which saw online sales surge 26 percent to $816 million and 18 percent to $479 million on Thanksgiving Day, according to a report by ComScore, a Reston, Va.-based research firm.

“Last year online sales grew 15 percent, so the online channel grew more than expected,” Holloway said. “Still online only accounts for 10 percent of all retail sales.”

Holloway said the strong start shows that despite the Alabama unemployment rate at 9.3 percent in October and U.S. jobless rate remaining above 9 percent, consumers are still willing to spend if they can find good deals. The Thanksgiving through Christmas period accounts for 20 percent of all retail sales, and as high as 40 percent for some retailers, she said.

“The major question is whether the surge in sales we saw over those four days will last throughout the holiday season or whether people just got a lot of their shopping out of the way early this year,” Holloway said.

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CoreLogic: Nearly 20 percent of Birmingham area home loans underwater

homeloans.JPGBIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Nearly one in five Birmingham area homeowners with a mortgage are underwater, or nearly so, according to CoreLogic, a research firm.

CoreLogic said today that 12 percent of all residential properties in the Birmingham-Hoover metro area are in a negative equity position, meaning the homeowner owes more on the mortgage than the home is worth. Another 7.1 percent are close to being underwater, the firm says.

Those third-quarter totals are about the same as the previous three-month period, CoreLogic said.

In the U.S., 22.1 percent of homeowners with a mortgage have negative equity. Another 5 percent of U.S. homeowners have less than 5 percent equity in their homes, the firm said.

Nevada is in the worst shape, with 58 percent of all mortgage properties underwater in the third quarter. Alabama’s figure was 11.2 percent, CoreLogic said.

Negative equity figures are monitored as a precursor to foreclosures.

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On the move: Jennifer Fields Hall, Sam Ortega, Birmingham Urban League and more

regions iron bowl.JPGBirmingham-area Regions Bank employees raised $18,000 for the March of Dimes through an annual team rivalry event called the Regions Iron Bowl Challenge for Healthy Babies. On Wednesday, bank employees celebrated at the Regions Center and learned the winner of the challenge: Team Alabama, which raised $12,000. (Special)


• The Court Appointed Special Advocates of Jefferson County, or CASA, said Jennifer Fields Hall is the organization’s new executive director.

Hall has 14 years of experience in fundraising and development. She will supervise CASA’s 3 case managers and 60 volunteers to ensure that abused and neglected children involved with Jefferson County Family Court have competent and caring volunteer advocates to represent their interests during court proceedings.

Sam Ortega has been named as manager of the Centennial Challenges Program at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. He leads day-to-day oversight of the Centennial Challenges, technology prize competitions to stimulate innovation of interest to NASA and the nation.


• The Birmingham Urban League said its board has elected new members to three-year terms. They are Nan Baldwin, vice president-regional development at the Birmingham Business Alliance; David Hedges, regional manager at RBC Bank; and LeDon Jones, vice president at National Bank of Commerce.

Maynard, Cooper Gale P.C. said Edward S. Sledge IV and Kevin C. Gray have been selected to participate in Class VIII of the Alabama State Bar’s Leadership Forum.

Sledge, a shareholder in Birmingham, practices in the firm’s General Litigation, Insurance and Financial Services Litigation and Products Liability practice groups. Gray is a shareholder in the firm’s Huntsville office.


Advanced Energy said Jay Electric Co. of Birmingham has achieved Proven Efficiency Verification accreditation for motor repair under a stringent quality assurance program to ensure consistency in repairs while achieving energy savings.

Jay Electric is one of only seven motor repair service centers in North America to receive this accreditation.


Northwestern Mutual said Birmingham-based financial representatives James M. Foyt, Daniel G. Hottel, Russell Vandevelde, Leslie Dee Wood and H. McKinley Wiggins were named members of the firm’s 2011 Forum group. Only 5 percent of the company’s 6,000-plus financial representatives are invited to attend the forum.

GrandView Financial Group said firm President Robert Straka and planner Robert Easterling attended Connect 2011, Multi-Financial’s annual conference.

Haskell Slaughter Young Rediker LLC said the U.S. News-Best Lawyers’ “Best Law Firms 2011-2012″ rankings recognized it as a “Tier 1″ firm in 13 practice areas in the Birmingham market. The firm also said 23 of its attorneys are recognized in the 2012 edition of “The Best Lawyers in America” in 24 different practice areas.

Mail announcements to On the Move, The Birmingham News, P.O. Box 2553, Birmingham, AL 35202, email text and JPEG photographs (150 KB minimum, with the file name including the person’s name) to, or fax to 325-3282. You can also follow the instructions under “On the Move” at

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