New loft-style apartments to soon open in downtown Mobile

Built in the 1850's, the historic Staples-Pake building on Royal Street downtown is seeing new life. (WPMI)

One of Mobile's oldest commercial buildings will soon feature 20 loft-style apartments.

Built in the 1850's, the historic Staples-Pake building on Royal Street downtown is seeing new life.

"The building is being reconverted from office to multi-family rental units on the 2nd and 3rd floor and there's 5,000 square feet available for commercial on the ground floor. And it's a beautiful project there," said Fred Rendfrey, Economic Development Director with the Downtown Mobile Alliance. Prior to its purchase by BEC Development last year, the space was largely vacant.

Across the street at Von's Bistro, workers gladly deal with the noisy construction outside, knowing that soon the development will bring more people through their doors.

"We're excited. We think it's going to bring more business downtown and whatever brings more business is always good for us," said manager Shay Hammac.

Other new businesses downtown include Fowler Lighting on St. Louis Street and Bun-D on Royal street. Bun-D is a European inspired smoothie, sandwich and salad shop that just opened within the past week. According to Rendfrey, it’s the company’s first location in the U.S.

But as new businesses pop up, many are left wondering about the progress of Meridian at the Port: The $46 million residential development on Water Street, which was originally expected to be under construction by the summer of 2016. The building that used to sit on the lot has been demolished, but construction on Meridian has not yet begun.

“They are just working through architectural plans, financing, construction etc. So they don't have a specific timeline but they are progressing on the plans,” said Rendfrey.

Mike Rogers, of Rogers and Willard, Inc. told Local 15 by phone that they’re currently talking with local banks, hoping to nail down construction loans soon for the project.

Within the past six months, at least nine new businesses have opened downtown and most of those are restaurants.

According to Rendfrey, between 1,500-2,000 people live downtown currently.