Phoenix Gulf Towers rendering.
 
By John Mullen
 
July 10, 2018 – Orange Beach, AL (OBA®) – Within a few months construction could begin on two 26-story condo towers to be built on the Gulf on the west end of beach road in Orange Beach.
 
On July 9 the Orange Beach Planning Commission gave a favorable recommendation in a 5-0 vote to a Brett Robinson project, Phoenix Gulf Towers. The project is planned on an empty lot between Sugar Beach condos on the east and Palm Beach condos on the west. Approval from the city council is required because the developer is asking for a change in the zoning to a planned unit development. 
 
“The current zoning is BR-2 which is beach resort high density,” City Planner Griffin Powell said. “This is a recommendation for city council for approval of preliminary and final PUD to rezone 5.8 acres to PUD to build two buildings.”
 
Each building will have 96 units or a total of 192 broken down into 24 two-bedroom units, 24 three-bedroom units and 48 four-bedroom units in each building. This will give Brett Robinson a total of 23 buildings in the Orange Beach and Gulf Shores area.
 
In its application to the city, Brett Robinson produced a scenario of what could be built on the parcel without the zoning change. That presentation noted the company could put 243 units on the 5.8 acres and not require approval from the city council. Also, the company could build 1.16 million in square footage under current zoning but is only asking for just more than 926,000. 
 
“We’re reducing the overall number of units by 51,” Brett Robinson’s John Brett told the commission. “That’s 51 less three- and four-bedroom units and however many cars it takes to fill up those units. It’s 243,000 square feet smaller.”
 
Brett said the company hopes to start the west building in “four or five months” and would start construction 12-14 months later on the east building.
 
Brett Robinson is asking for a waiver on the incremental setback requirement in the beach overlay district. It requires that buildings decrease in width by two feet every 10 feet above 100 feet.
 
“They are going straight up,” Powell said. “It’s very similar to the Phoenix Orange Beach I and II.”
 
Community Development Director Kit Alexander asked that a 10-foot wide beach access for use by emergency vehicles and city personnel be added on the east side of the property and it was included in the PUD.
 
Commissioners Lannie Smith and Chairman Robert Stuart recused themselves during the discussion citing conflicts of interest.
 
Phoenix Orange Beach II
The company is currently putting the finishing touches on Phoenix Orange Beach I, a 114-unit condo west of the Hampton Inn on the Gulf. It is a few stories out of the ground with Phoenix Orange Beach II, a 120-unit project, on the Gulf between the Island House Hotel on the west and Tidewater condos on the east.
 
Four other condo projects have been approved for the beachfront near the intersection of Alabama 161 and the beach road near the Rite Aid. None of the four have broken ground.
 
On the west side of the Cotton Bayou Beach Access, the team of Larry Wireman and Nathan Cox were planning Caribe on the Beach. It is planned to be 27 stories tall and have 160 units. The five- and three-bedroom units range in price from $1.39 million to $820,050, according to caribeonthebeach.com.
 
The Gulf Coast Opportunity Fund LLC received site plan approval for a 27-story Transcendence condominium with 166 units. The five- and three-bedroom units range in price from $1.2 million to $2.6 million, according to transcendence.com. Cox is also involved in this project.
 
It will be directly east of the Hampton Inn next to a parcel where the same developer received approval for Grace and Ascension. Both would top 35 stories and comprise 277 high-end condo units, but developers are not yet marketing these properties.
 
There are more than 17,000 vacation condos, hotel rooms and beach houses in south Baldwin County. Orange Beach alone has 8,466 of the 14,567 condos with Gulf Shores having 4,519 and Fort Morgan 1,582.
 
There are a total of 2,473 hotel rooms in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach and none in Fort Morgan.