A modern marina in Bayou La Batre

Developing the new City Docks project should benefit both residents and tourists

A rendering of the new City Docks project in Bayou La Batre.

With a $30 million grant secured, an ambitious project to revamp the waterfront at Bayou La Batre continues to move forward.

The Bayou La Batre City Docks project will dramatically revamp the area, bringing with it a modern marina, the ability for shrimpers to sell their catch fresh off the boat and amenities including paddling, hiking and birding.

“This is a very transformational project,” Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner Chris Blankenship said when it was announced in April 2022. “It’s really going to be great.”

ADCNRC is funding the project through a grant coming from federal Restore Act money.

The first two phases, including development of the project’s master plan, are complete, with bidding expected to begin soon and construction, the final phase, due to start this fall or winter.

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The docks in Bayou La Batre have long been a spot for shrimpers and other fishermen.

It’s another step forward after the devastating 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill that the area is still recovering from.

“The 2010 oil spill was harmful to the area, both its people and environment,” Mobile County Commissioner Randall Dueitt, who represents District 3 in the southern part of Mobile County, says. “It’s good that fully funded projects like Bayou La Batre City Docks help us move forward stronger than before.”

The project started via a proposal from the mayor of Bayou La Batre to the Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council, which received proposals for the Restore Act funds.

Both the oil spill and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 contributed to devastating the city docks area in Bayou La Batre, and plans have long been discussed to revive the area.

The master plan includes three areas that will be developed:

The Market District will include a greenspace for events, multi-use pavilion and parking and structural improvements. Shrimpers would be able to sell their catch directly from their boats at the docks. “Direct seafood sales are an economic driver for this site and for the community,” according to the plan.

The Marina District will include a 50-slip marina, public boat launch and a multipurpose building. “Charter fishing opportunities would be realized at this site and are another large market in this area with inshore and offshore fishing,” the master plan says.

The Lightning Point District would include amenities for boaters and eco-tourists like paddlers, birders, hikers and shoreline anglers.

A major feature of the City Docks project is a 50-slip marina and ample parking.

Though the master plan doesn’t mention specific numbers, it does offer a look at the percentage of revenue expected from each area once the project is completed. Private fishing tops the list at 76%, followed by seafood sales at 12%, charter operations at 10% and ecotourism at 2%.

The area is already seeing some renovation, including the Lightning Point Shoreline Restoration, addition of some ADA access and a fishing platform and enhancement of a current boat ramp.

The project looks to be a boon for the Bayou La Batre community.

“The City Docks Project provides a means for developing amenities that attract both locals and tourists while showcasing Bayou La Batre’s small-town coastal atmosphere and historical heritage as the ‘Seafood Capital of Alabama,’” the latest project update says.

Alec Harvey is executive editor of Business Alabama.

This article appears in the June 2023 issue of Business Alabama.

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