A project along South Gay Street appears to be in the works after a development group scooped up three properties over the past two months to the tune of more than $10 million.
In March, Multi Aubal GS LLC purchased the Compass Bank property at 124 S. Gay St., where the drive-thru is located, for $2.95 million, according to Lee County property records.
The group further acquired two other adjacent properties — the old Tiger Rags and Burger King parcels at 138 and 156 S. Gay St. — in late April.
Multi Aubal GS LLC paid $3.8 million for the former Tiger Rags parcel and $4 million for the Burger King property, bringing the total for all three parcels to $10.75 million.
Michael Jones, assistant vice president of corporate communications at McWane Inc., a Birmingham firm that is part of the development group for the project, said he couldn't offer any specifics on what will be included in the project because no final decisions have been made.
"Right now what we’re doing is just evaluating the different options that are available, that would make the most sense, that would be the best fit for that property," he said. "We are committed to, whatever the project is, that it will be a positive contribution to the downtown Auburn community. Our goal is to make sure it improves the quality of the neighborhood and the quality of just the downtown as a whole."
The plans for the project are being reviewed, added Jones, who said he hasn't been made aware of any specific time line for the project.
Whatever the scope and nature of the project ends up being, it will likely further the city's goal of revitalizing that stretch of South Gay Street and expanding the reach of the Urban Core downtown, as identified in the Downtown Master Plan (DMP), as well as densifying downtown, a goal of the city's land-use plan, CompPlan 2030.
"We’ve been challenged with Gay Street having a lot of parking lots and bank drive-thrus and other drive-thrus, which have been nice uses downtown," said Megan Crouch, who just stepped into her new role as assistant city manager. "But as we transition, we are trying to make Gay Street a more active street for pedestrians and activities, so with a property assemblage we do have an opportunity to have new uses on Gay Street that people can enjoy. It’s important that they’re making a substantial investment. It’s also important that this group is a well-known group in Alabama that is very conscientious about the product that they deliver."
Crouch added that it's important to note that the goal of any future development downtown is to "ensure that it's comfortable for pedestrians, things are well-lit, and that we can hopefully attract a mix of uses that will entice more people to come downtown and also provide other opportunities for people who want to live (downtown) and have nowhere to go."