City of Mobile: request to be made for Civic Center developers - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

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City of Mobile: request to be made for Civic Center developers

MOBILE, AL (WALA) -

Mardi Gras season has once again focused attention on the future of the Mobile Civic Center.

City officials tell FOX10 News that a request for potential developers to submit qualifications will go out early next month.

The city had been looking at several options for its future, and people are still weighing in, including the man who has long portrayed Chief Slac during the Joe Cain Parade.

Back in November, the City of Mobile held an open house, hearing from the public about what they would like to see done with the Mobile Civic Center and the land there.

Among the options: a new arts district, a new multipurpose arena, and a mixed-use development incorporating all three options.

Mayor Sandy Stimpson said to leave the Civic Center as is would cost the city $20 million in deferred maintenance. 

But, the Civic Center has long been a favorite of Mardi Gras organizations.

Wayne Dean is a historian who has portrayed Chief Slac during the Joe Cain Day Parade.

Dean said, "A city Mobile's size has got to have a civic center.  Do we need one exactly like we've got?  Not necessarily." 

But Dean said everyone who uses the Civic Center needs to have an input in it.

He doesn't think it has to necessarily make money, just be run efficiently.

And Dean does believe the present facility will be torn down.

He said, "We need something similar to what we've got now.  Again, that remains to be seen whether we need one bigger or smaller."

We asked people in Mobile Wednesday what they would like to see done with the Civic Center.

Among the responses:

"I'm kind of a retro kind of guy anyway, so I'd say fix it, make it look good."

"I'm really not sure.  I know it's integral for Mardi Gras balls, and other organizations use it."

"Keep it the way it is."  

"Renovate it."

City officials said they hope to have a development contract go before the city council before the end of the year. 

They also said when a group is on board, the whole process of building would take about another two years.

That may leave questions about where Mardi Gras balls are held during that intervening period.

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