The new National Guard Super Armory in the Foley Industrial Park is nearing completion and personnel and equipment will be moving from the old building behind city hall sometime this summer.
“It took them a while to get the monies and the approval with the Army,” Mayor Ralph Hellmich said. “They move meticulously. It took two years to design. The bottom line is the armory is about 80 percent constructed. It’s out there on the east side of the Foley Beach Express right there behind Glass Inc. Very impressive looking facility.”
Hellmich said the National Guard began looking at ways to combine posts into the newer, safer facilities after Hurricane Ivan.
“The two that were really on the books immediately were Baldwin and Mobile,” Hellmich said. “Back in 2015 they approached us and wanted to do a swap. They wanted some property out at Barren Field and when it was over, we would swap the property in other words they would give us the armory.”
With city services needs growing with the population, Foley’s municipal government facilities are becoming overcrowded and the old armory will be used to help alleviate some of those issues.
“We’ll do a transfer probably in late summer or maybe even the fall and we’ll take control of the facility behind us,” Hellmich said. “What we’re trying to do is repurpose that building behind us with our various departments. Right now, space is a premium as our city grows and the need for the number of people for services.”
City Administrator Michael Thompson said the armory will be on 32 acres owned by the city and the city will be on the lookout for funding to help with the conversion of the old armory into office space.
“The guard will provide the old Armory and land behind the library and city hall to the city,” Thompson said. “We are working on its best use for the city and are trying to secure some funds to help with its renovation.”
Hellmich said the armory will be safe to shelter personnel before, during and after any tropic events or other local disasters.
“It is built to military standards, it has a cafeteria in there,” he said. “In other words, if they bring in personnel to help after a disaster it will be a self-supporting building not only with generators but it’s built to 150 to 170 mph standards. It will be an exceptionally safe building.”
It will also provide better storage options for vehicles and equipment.
“It has a separate facility behind it where they’ll house a lot of their equipment and things in safe storage whereas a lot of it was stored outside now,” Hellmich said. “It’s a really modern building and something they will be very proud of, I’m sure.”
And, something the citizens of Foley can be proud of, too. Hellmich hopes to arrange a public open house with Army officials at some point during the summer.
“We’re trying to, if the Army sees fit, to talk them into like a public opening of that building so the public can see what they’ve constructed,” Hellmich said. “It’s really impressive. Sometime this summer we hope there will be some kind of an open house type thing for the public.”