Gulf Shores residents and business owners were given a chance to express their concerns over the possible 24-month closure of W. 1st St. for the imminent construction of an Embassy Suites hotel. …
Gulf Shores residents and business owners were given a chance to express their concerns over the possible 24-month closure of W. 1st St. for the imminent construction of an Embassy Suites hotel.
Robins and Morton is requesting the closure between West Beach Boulevard to use the street as a laydown area during construction and a safe corridor to the neighboring site for the storage of materials. The closed street will eventually be elevated to meet the entrance of the new structure.
Brandan Franklin, Gulf Shores chief building official, presented the request to Gulf Shores City Council at a May 15 work session.
"I want to point out that we worked extensively with them to create this plan. They first initially requested to close the entire portion of the street between W. 1st Ave. and W. Beach Blvd.," Franklin said. "We did ask that they leave the sidewalk open on what would be the far west side. They have done that by putting a fence up and some jersey barricades."
The site plan provides safeguards for pedestrian traffic, signage and construction traffic flow. The information provided indicated:
Franklin told council the sidewalks will be closed to pedestrians when construction crews are moving spoil (dirt and sand from the hotel site during foundation work) to the empty lot next to the hotel site.
"We worked extensively with them, and they have been very agreeable and working with us to make this happen," Franklin said. "We do ask that you approve this and allow the mayor to sign a contract with them that allows them to utilize that space but with the condition that the use of the rights of way and for any repairs and anything else that needs to occur at the completion of the project be done to our satisfaction and the road closure not occur until June 1."
Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft questioned Franklin on the entrance and exit at the north end of W. 1st St. He said he thought construction traffic would only be using the south end.
Franklin said that with the pedestrian traffic through there, they thought it would be better to use the north entrance.
Councilperson Joe Garris expressed concern over tractor-trailers having enough space to make the turn from W. 1st. Ave. to W. 1st St.
Franklin said they have looked at it and believe there will be space but that if the city feels it is an unsafe condition, they can go a different route.
Craft opened the floor to questions.
One resident asked if the plan still includes an additional 150 parking spaces.
When the project was first announced, it included 150 parking spaces for the public located on the parking deck. Gary Sinak said there was concern those spaces would be consumed by hotel guests, so in place of the spaces, the project owners paid the city for the 150 spaces.
Craft said the city has already received the money but has not yet decided where those spaces will be created.
Rosemarie Steele, owner of DeSoto's Restaurant, expressed concern over the loss of parking in the area and said the road closure was not discussed until a few weeks ago.
"I have given easements for powers lines, and I have tried to be a good neighbor, but this is getting a little hectic down there in a tight spot," Steele said. "The city council wouldn't let us have a drive-through window at our small little building 20 years ago because it was too congested, and now they have this going on. The parking is desperately needed now."
Craft said they are doing everything they can to add additional parking to that area, but there is no timeline currently for getting them complete.
"This is going to be a challenge for a couple of years," Craft said.