Orange Beach Planning Commission: Rouses planned spot is bad one; Phoenix Orange Beach II gets thumbs up for council consideration

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By John Mullen/ Islander contributor
Posted Thursday, July 13, 2017 9:52 am

ORANGE BEACH – Location, location, location. And a bad one at that.
Everybody seems to want Rouse’s to open a new store in Orange Beach. Just not in the southeast corner of Canal Road and Alabama 161.

“Pass the word on that we would love to have them in a different spot,” Planning Commission Chairman Robert Stuart said told Rouse’s representative, Phillip Burton. “Bring it. We want your sushi, we want your boudin, we want it all.”

The unlikely building of a Rouse’s at the proposed location provided the liveliest banter during a busy July 10 meeting.

Almost secondarily, the agenda included a new 26-story Phoenix building by Brett Robinson. It is planned for an empty lot between Tidewater condominiums and DoubleTree by Hilton, formerly the Island House Hotel.

Also presented were a rezoning request for the former Reynolds concrete site with an eye toward a mixed-use development, final plat approval for an 88-townhome project in East Orange Beach called Spyglass and a 216-unit micro efficiency apartment complex behind Baldwin EMC off the Foley Beach Express.

The Reynolds site, directly east of the Orange Beach Event Center at The Wharf, received a 9-0 favorable recommendation for the rezoning and was presented to council on Tuesday after press time.

Spyglass also received a favorable 9-0 recommendation, was in the final approval stage and doesn’t have to go before the council again. Greenways Apartments received a 9-0 negative recommendation because commissioners believe more parking is needed. It’s likely to be presented to council for a public hearing at the Aug. 15 meeting.

See full report on debate on Rouses at


The preliminary and final planned unit development on the latest Brett Robinson project received a 9-0 favorable recommendation from the commission. It will now go before the City Council for a public hearing, likely on Aug. 15.

By right, a 201-unit building could be constructed on the site, but Brett-Robinson instead opted for 120 units. Broker John Brett explained the company wanted to be further off the road on the north and not build to the coastal construction line on the beach side.

Two variances are sought by the company. Codes say there can only be 20 inhabitable floors, but Brett Robinson wants to have 24. The company also seeks a waiver on the incremental setback rule. Code calls for buildings taller than 100 feet to be narrower by two feet for every 10 feet above 100 feet. It’s sometimes called the wedding cake look.

Brett Robinson received a waiver on the incremental setback rule for Phoenix Orange Beach I which is under construction next to the Hampton Inn. Phoenix Gulf Shores, a new 80-unit building, recently opened on West Beach.

The company also agreed to construct a beach access for emergency and beach service vehicles on the east side of the property.

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