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New Development in Orange Beach Touts Public-Private Partnership for Design and Community Space

Orange Beach is set to become an even nicer spot to relax and soak up the sun. Thanks to a project that provides public access to additional beachfront and several new amenities to enjoy.

In a public-private partnership, the city of Orange Beach purchased four acres of beachfront property along with Orange Beach Land Company (OBLC) owned by John McInnis and Cameron Price who also own the popular Flora-Bama Lounge on the Orange Beach and Perdido Key, Florida line.

The entire 8.7-acre site with 800 feet of beachfront is across from Publix Shoppes at Palm Pointe. As part of the agreement, OBLC purchased an adjacent 400 feet of beachfront property for its CoastAL restaurant development. The project consists of three single-level buildings: a 20,000-square-foot restaurant, a 5,000-square-foot retail building and a 3,000-square-foot outdoor bar. All surround a 15,000-square-foot Gulf-facing promenade.

These three distinct buildings frame and create synergy around an intimate central greenspace, explains William Brantley, a partner at SMP Architecture, who, along with fellow SMP architect Brian Spencer created the design for Island Entertainment, a hospitality management company owned by McInnis and Price that will manage the restaurant. 

“With its broad overhangs, wrap-around covered porch, and iconic tower, the restaurant building design is rooted in coastal Alabama vernacular architecture,” Brantley explains. “Dining areas spill out onto the promenade and greenspace at the ground level.  The tower and a second level on the north façade establish a strong street presence along Perdido Beach Boulevard.”

Brantley says the retail building draws inspiration from historic southern market structures.  Merchandise counters on the north and south facades allow the space to open-up and engage the greenspace, as well as attract interest from Perdido Beach Boulevard.

The outdoor bar structure delineates the west side of the central greenspace.  The gable roof form, exposed wood trusses, and wood corner brackets are consistent with a traditional southern pavilion.  Brantley notes that west of the pavilion, palm trees lining the public walkway from the parking lot compose a pleasing “post card image” looking toward the beach.

McInnis says the goal is for every seat and space on the property to have a view of the beach and Gulf of Mexico.

In addition to the three main buildings, the project includes a landmark tower on axis with Alabama’s Coastal Connection (Highway 161) and a public restroom facility for beachgoers.   Construction begins fall 2021. City parking and outdoor venues will open spring 2022.  The restaurant is scheduled to open spring 2023.

“With its vernacular architecture and well defined, vibrant public spaces, we are confident CoastAL will deliver a memorable and authentic Orange Beach experience,” says Brantley. “Operable glass garage doors allow all the buildings to open-up, capture the cross breeze and provide a beach bar feel with breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico.”

The project, he adds, provides much-needed beach access, parking and restrooms for public use, and the CoastAL development will act as a catalyst for further growth and development. 

As part of the Orange Beach City Council’s aim to reduce density, the project replaces an earlier plan to construct two high-rise condominium towers on the site.

“This property was the largest piece of high-density condo land left on the Alabama Coast,” notes McInnis. “While not in the best interest of the developers financially, it was in the best interest of the community and the public.”

The city of Orange Beach and a private company have come together to develop Orange Beach’s first municipal beach. The project consists of three single-level buildings that include a restaurant, a retail building and an outdoor bar.

A 3,000-square-foot outdoor bar is part of the complex, which is designed with a southern coastal feel. The project is the result of a public-private partnership.

The CoastAL buildings will surround a 15,000-square-foot Gulf-facing public promenade and green space, along with a free parking lot. This is the first time Orange Beach residents have free parking on the Gulf.

A birds-eye look at the complex, which is flanked by two high-rise buildings.  The low-rise buildings will replace an earlier plan to construct two high-rise condominium towers on the site.

Article Written by Jessica Armstrong and Images Courtesy of SMP Architects

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