More BIG Ideas for Aloe Bay
More BIG Ideas for Aloe Bay
Aloe Bay Community Meeting
September 16 at 5:30 p.m.
We are excited to announce the plan for Aloe Bay is nearly complete, and that there will be a community meeting at 5:30 p.m. on September 16 to share information on the plans! Similar to the charrette earlier this year, this community meeting will be held virtually due to concerns regarding recent COVID-19 surges in the region and the risks associated with holding in-person meetings.


As we get closer to September 16, additional updates will be provided with meeting information and access to the master plan.


In the Aloe Bay update for this week, we are going to discuss the next two BIG IDEAS from the Town Center Master Plan. As a reminder, these BIG IDEAS outline the vision for the plan which serves as a guide for the future of the Town Center area. These next points are tied together through the premise that as the Town Center develops it should serve the local community and in doing so increase economic resiliency by improving the Island's tax base. In essence, at the heart of the plan are the BIG IDEAS, which help guide implementation for the community and town leaders to maintain orientation toward the creation of a successful Town Center. 
Destinations should be useful to people living on the island. Future destinations might be a fish market, a place to watch the sunset, or a variety of restaurants from small to unique (like hook-to-table) to upscale (but not too pricey) for special occasions on the island. This should also be the destination for a working waterfront which might offer oystering, fishing, and angling, and other services like a fish market and convenience store for boaters. The Town Center should be tied into the strong leisure and sport fishing base by offering sporting goods and rentals for kayaks and bikes. New development can serve local needs that aren’t available elsewhere on the island like an urgent care. In addition to serving local needs, Aloe Bay Town Center can be a place for visitors to come stay at a small lodge or bed & breakfast, but large hotels are not appropriate. Visitors can buy locally owned and made items at art galleries, specialty apparel, jewelry, or book stores, or pop-up temporary retail and food trucks for small business entrepreneurs. In order for people to come to the Town Center and comfortably go between these many new destinations, there will be a need for safe, comfortable, and interesting streets for walking and biking. The plan should enable pedestrians, cyclists, and golf carts. 
When considering the Aloe Bay Town Center as a new destination on the island, the steering committee and planning team spent time investigating other coastal communities to understand what makes their town centers successful. A few example places (not all of them) included Apalachicola, Carrabelle, Cedar Key, and Key West, Florida. These provided the best precedent based on the relationships that exist between the buildings and the waterfront. Each of them has active, intriguing and vibrant town centers with a horizontal and vertical mixture of uses that support the local community. The authentic and unique expression of community character in each place yields lively places for visitors and locals alike. Other places like St. Simmons Island and Jekyll Island in Georgia were studied for their progressive design elements around low-impact development and resiliency, but more on that next week. 

In order to create an intriguing town, designs should not only be aesthetically pleasing but also functional. As new spaces are created on the island, Aloe Bay should include destinations that serve the community and enrich the traits true to its character. All new destinations should be useful for the people living on the island. For example, considering the area will be popular for many people who are passionate about fishing and seafood, a fish market and a fishing store directly adjacent to the water would benefit the locals and provide the necessary elements to enjoy these activities recreationally and even operate related businesses more effectively. The Aloe Bay Town Center will provide opportunities for a vibrant mix of uses within one complete environment along the waterfront. These varying uses will benefit collaboratively from proximity to each other, in turn, adding convenience and ultimately fiscal value to one another. 

Recreational opportunities include a park and green space system as well as connectivity to the larger Dauphin Island shared-use path and bike lane on Bienville Boulevard.  Shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues should take place along the raised boardwalk near the water.  Space is allocated for new greens, plazas, and pavilions, ideally situated near the proposed Eco-Tourism center providing much needed public spaces for community gatherings. In addition to a mix of opens spaces and land uses, there will be a mix of building types to provide a visually vibrant palette along the street. A visually interesting street sparks curiosity of pedestrians fostering a desire for walking and walkability, and with a more walkable environment the chance to reduce vehicular traffic by residents and visitors.

The green space shown in the rendering above is protected by buildings and structures. This creates a comfortable human-scaled outdoor room (often called a 'sense of enclosure') using buildings that are appropriately scaled and consistent with local building codes. Maintaining public access to the waterfront and green space where people can gather and socialize is important for creating a strong sense of community. As an example, this green space could include a boat shop, restaurant, and open pavilion for community gathering. Note: Code requires the lowest floor to be elevated no lower than two feet above base flood elevation.  
The Town’s revenue is primarily property and sales taxes, and commercial revenue generators are necessary to diversify the local economy and reduce the dependency on outside aid after storm events. The plan should spur business attraction, retention, expansion, and entrepreneurship in the town center which will lead to an increase in ownership, while not over developing the town center. Revenue generated can support needs to upgrade infrastructure (stormwater, sewer, water, and utilities). Build a town center with multiple attractions that support one another including access by boat with places to dock them. 
The Town should be able to sustain itself economically and generate revenue with the new retail, restaurant and tourism industry opportunities that will emerge from the master plan for Aloe Bay. Through careful planning, commerce can be encouraged by creating places in which people can enjoy an afternoon shopping, eating, playing near the water all within the Town Center. Elements such as the working waterfront create synergy between local resident industry and the type of unique destination that will attract visitors to come to Dauphin Island. Sales will be encouraged by creating new spaces for local merchants to sell their various products. Since the Town’s revenue is primarily coming in from lodging, property and sales taxes, commercial revenue generators are necessary.
It’s important to note there is a positive symbiosis between local residents and visitors. Communities have been using tourism as an economic development driver for decades, and there are good reasons for this approach. One reason is for areas without exportable goods or resources, but with natural assets, tourism represents a viable basis for economic sustainability, growth, diversification, and competitive advantage to other communities. Pre-existing cultural and natural assets can be introduced to a wider audience, who in turn, tell others about their experiences and begin a process of spreading positive economic feedback loops. Another reason is that tourism employment is often provided by small businesses with local ownership. This provides local economies with a versatile self-employment option both directly working with tourism and indirectly through tourism servicing businesses.
Finally, the encouragement and diversification of the Town's tax base has been an on-going discussion for decades. As a recent addition to that discussion in 2018 the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP) released a documentary entitled "The Flight of the Frigate Bird" which presents the rich history of Dauphin Island. This includes financial implications of the current evolution of development to the present time and opportunities which the community could consider into the future. For more information on "The Flight of the Frigate Bird" visit the MBNEP's website at: or click on the video below. 
For more information on Aloe Bay, including videos of the charrette, please visit the Aloe Bay website(
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