Montgomery Business Journal

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 Reporter's Notebook



David Zaslawsky





The 104-year-old Bell Building has been sold for $3.1 million and will be developed into around 70 apartments.

Located in downtown Montgomery, the 12-story office building was sold in March by F&A Realty Montgomery Ltd. to a firm in Indiana. Mark Dauber, an associate broker with John Stanley & Associates, said the buyer is seeking tax credits and that renovations could begin later this year. Dauber said the rents would be market rate.

The Bell Building was the tallest building in Montgomery back in 1910 at 160.1 feet.



Reinhardt Lexus and Toyota broke ground on an 83,000-square-foot facility and expects to add 33 employees. The former location will be home to a pre-owned vehicle facility.

The new site represents a $17 million investment - $13 million for the building and another $4 million for the property. The company’s new vehicles and expanded maintenance department will be located there. The new facility will feature 42 service bays, including six for express maintenance services. The dealership is also buying an automated carwash and a mechanical waxer to eliminate the current hand washes and waxes.

Mike Reinhardt, general manager of Reinhardt Lexus and president of Reinhardt Motors, a family-owned business, said he projects revenue to increase 40 percent. He talked about the goal of selling 4,200 units a year. The company, which has been operating for nearly 75 years, has room for about 1,400 new vehicles, which includes property behind Capitol Chevrolet and 325 pre-owned vehicles.

After the expansion, Reinhardt will have about 200 employees.



Wind Creek Hospitality announced an initiative to use locally grown and produced food at Wind Creek properties as well as supporting food pantries and food banks in the region. The Southern Table initiative will support EAT South, which has a downtown farm.

Wind Creek Hospitality has bought nearly 250,000 pounds of local chicken in the last six months; nearly 50,000 pounds of catfish; and 15,000-plus pounds of locally made sausage.

There is also a 24-foot-long food truck, which has been named “Good to Go” and is capable of producing hundreds of meals at a time.



Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said the General Fund reserve fund has grown from $5 million to $15.1 million and is projected to reach about $25 million in a three-year period.



A couple of years ago, Birmingham officials visited Montgomery to see the downtown redevelopment. Montgomery is still getting some official visits. Strange said that he recently met with a Huntsville group looking at downtown Montgomery, Riverwalk Stadium and the entertainment district. Officials from Biloxi, Miss., and Pensacola, Fla., have also visited downtown Montgomery. “We’re getting a reputation of people wanting to see what we’ve done,” Strange said.



The City of Montgomery is working on reducing its power bill by first replacing light bulbs with more energy-efficient bulbs. The city did save thousands by training some of its employees to demolish dilapidated houses instead of paying a $2,500 abatement fee per house.

Strange said the city’s work force is down about 10 percent from when he took office in March 2009. He attributed most of the reduction to not filling positions and consolidations.



Montgomery is ranked No. 23 on the 2014 best cities to start a business by WalletHub.

The firm used 14 metrics to rank 150 cities. Mobile was ranked one spot higher at No. 22 while Huntsville was 25 and Birmingham was 31.

The 14 metrics were: access to financing; cost of office space; corporate taxes; employee availability; local cost of living; average annual salary; length of the average work day; work force education level; entrepreneurial activity; five-year survival rate; number of businesses per capita; real estate affordability; industry variety; and small business friendliness index.


U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney spoke about the dangers of a trade war. “We’re in a trade war now and we’re just not fighting,” Sessions said at the Montgomery

Area Chamber of Commerce Eggs & Issues. “We’ve got too many situations in which our trade partners sell to us huge amounts and then one way or the other don’t buy from us. They should be buying from us. It will be good for them and be good for us.



The City of Montgomery is spending $1.3 million on sidewalks, screening, painting and art work from St. Jude to Cottage Hill to prepare for the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery March next year. Strange said that 28 structures will be torn down.



Alabama is ranked No. 8 in the growth of women-owned businesses – 76 percent during the last 17 years.

The state has an estimated 122,400 women-owned companies that have combined sales of $16.7 billion and have about 102,000 employees. Georgia was ranked No. 1 with a growth rate of 118 percent, according to the fourth annual American-Express OPEN State of the Women-Owned Businesses Report.


Although Hyundai’s U.S. sales for March were down 1.9 percent from a year ago, the 67,005 units sold were the Korea automaker’s fifth-best month.

Three of Hyundai Motor America’s top three months have been in March, including the all-time high of 69,728 vehicles sold in March 2012. The 68,306 units sold last March are No. 3 on the list. The No. 2 month is May 2013 (68,358 units) and the No. 4 is May 2012 (67,019 units).



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