One of the first buildings that visitors see when they enter downtown Mobile through the Bankhead Tunnel is getting a major renovation to become a new center for engineering and office space.
A project to upgrade and refurbish the building — a former TV studio — was unveiled Feb. 16 by Hargrove Controls + Automation, Cummings Architecture and the Downtown Mobile Alliance.
Upon completion, Hargrove will take over 19, 000 square feet of space to add to its downtown campus, while another 4, 500 square feet will be offered for lease. Hargrove’s Controls + Automation team will use the new space to develop and test computer systems that operate industrial facilities, such as paper mills, chemical plants, power plants, refineries and manufacturing plants.
WALA-TV moved out of the building 15 years ago, and structurally it hasn’t gotten much attention since a new facade was installed in 1970. “You can tell where WALA was. It’s open and that suits a business like Hargrove because our style is to have an open area, not a bunch of offices, ” says Ralph Hargrove, CEO of Hargrove Engineers + Constructors.
Hargrove plans to add a gallery, or balcony, facing Government Street, reminiscent of old Mobile and similar to the structure of adjacent streets. It will be one of the largest balconies on the Mardi Gras parade route and will provide an additional covered walkway for those traveling parallel to the courthouse.
To date, Mobile-based Hargrove has renovated more than 125, 000 square feet of previously abandoned space in downtown Mobile.
Text by Dave Helms