Fred Rendfrey with Downtown Mobile Alliance

Fred Rendfrey with Downtown Mobile Alliance

This week on The Mobile Alabama Business Podcast, we sit down with Fred Rendfrey with The Downtown Mobile Alliance. Listen in as he explains the role of the Downtown Mobile Alliance, what events they have coming up, and what they are doing to help downtown Mobile thrive!

Produced by Blue Fish


Fred Rendfrey: My name is Fred Rendfrey and I'm the director of Downtown Economic Development for the Downtown Mobile Alliance.

Marcus Neto: Yay. Well, we are excited about having you on the podcast today because this is going to be... For those of you that are listening, we're going to answer some of the normal questions but because of who Fred is, we're going to take this as an opportunity to learn more about some of the cool things that are happening downtown and how the Downtown Mobile Alliance is integral in bringing some of those things to fruition. So welcome to the podcast, Fred. Yeah.

Fred Rendfrey: Thank you. Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. And so to begin with, we still want to hear who you are. So where are you from? Where'd you go to high school? Did you go to college? Are you married? Just give us some backstory so we know who you are as a person.

Fred Rendfrey: Sure. Well, I grew up on the Mississippi coast and I was born in 1980. January of 1980, in fact. And I went to Pass Christian Elementary School and then Long Beach High School. So I was a Bearcat. Graduated in 1998 and I went to college at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, where I got a bachelor's in economics. And then I went to the University of Southern Mississippi and I got a master's of science in economic development and studied accounting afterwards, so-

Marcus Neto: It seems backwards.

Fred Rendfrey: Yeah, it does. But that's been my sort of educational journey. I figured that since accounting was the language of math and the language of real estate, I needed to study it. So it was just sort of an intellectual endeavor, I think.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. I mean, I guess knowing what you do, it completely makes sense. Normally you hear somebody goes for the accounting degree because it's practical, they can get a job. And then they go and get the... Anyway. I didn't mean to interrupt. But yeah, it was just different.

Fred Rendfrey: You're right. You're right.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Fred Rendfrey: And after college, I worked for the Mississippi Development Authority, then I worked for the Harrison County Development Authority and then I worked for the Pearl Chamber of Commerce in Pearl, Mississippi. And those three organizations spent a good deal of time working on industrial development and industrial recruitment and early on, I realized that that wasn't exactly my interest. My interests were in other fields, primarily adaptive reuse.

Fred Rendfrey: And what I have determined in my head is that the reason that I was drawn to adaptive reuse is that being a Mississippian on the outskirts of New Orleans after the '70s and '80s oil embargo with the depressed economy that the Metro area had, there was a lot of vacancy, a lot of blight, a lot of adaptive reuse opportunities. And so I moved to Mobile to work for the Downtown Mobile Alliance and I've been here almost 15 years now. I moved here one month after getting married and have been here ever since. Since we moved to Mobile, we've had a couple of children, two sons. A first and third grader. And we've loved it ever since.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. Well, I mean, you've seen quite a bit of change in Mobile then, because I mean I know even in... Our business hasn't been located downtown, but maybe five years I think, or something like that. And even in that period of time, I've seen such a tremendous amount of change that it's kind of, is this even the same city, really?

Marcus Neto: What are some things that you've seen in your time here? What are some of the things that maybe even Downtown Mobile Alliance has been responsible that people may not know about?

Fred Rendfrey: We have seen tremendous amount of growth in just about every sector of downtown from hospitality events, restaurants, offices, and residents. I think what gets me the most excited are the restaurants. I think what gets me most excited are the residents. We have seen 600 new apartments delivered to the market since 2015.

Marcus Neto: Wow.

Fred Rendfrey: We are working on another 180 unit new construction multifamily project that we expect to start in April. And we're also seeing a lot of investment in the single family. So there's a project, the Detonti Place subdivision, seven new single family houses are about to break ground. We were talking that on South Cedar street last week, three law offices are being converted back to houses, right? So we're seeing in the '60s and '70s, the homes were being converted back to offices and now we're seeing them converted back to single family houses because people want to live in a walkable, vibrant community.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. And I think one of the things that I have come to see is that people that are moving here from outside of the area really gravitate to downtown because they may have lived in downtown Atlanta or downtown Nashville or downtown DC or wherever. But actually this would be a nice segue.

Marcus Neto: So the other day we were talking and you mentioned the exodus from downtown and one of the reasons why that happened. And I just wanted you to share that with the audience, because I think it was something that I had never even considered and I thought it was very interesting how you explained that. So why don't you tell us about that?

Fred Rendfrey: So I think that anecdote was that after World War II ended, the VA offered an incentive for home buyers and it was a federally insured, subsidized mortgage. It sounds lovely, everyone wants to encourage home ownership for veterans. But the tickler of that was that it was required for new construction.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Fred Rendfrey: So one couldn't use the VA benefit for a condo in town, for instance. It had to be a new construction, suburban greenfield development. And we regularly see unintended consequences from the government that negatively affect our environment like that, so.

Marcus Neto: Yeah and I know that one of the things that you guys kind of get really excited about sinking your teeth into is kind of reversing some of those unintended consequences that may be law or things that are written into even mortgage documents and stuff like that. Because nobody thinks when they're putting together this new, wonderful program for veterans that we're going to give them the opportunity to buy homes at maybe even a discounted rate and all this other stuff. And then nobody thinks, "Okay, but we're causing a mass exodus of people out of downtown locations to outside because there's just nobody doing new development in downtown."

Marcus Neto: And so I think it's interesting that you caught that, but talk to us a little bit about that as far as the role of Downtown Mobile Alliance and changing some of those things, because I think that is important.

Fred Rendfrey: Well, we wake up every day thinking about how we can improve downtown and it's through things like master plans. Nobody likes plans on a shelf, but we wake up every day trying to execute the 2008 Master Plan that the city of Mobile did for downtown Mobile and the downtown adjacent neighborhoods. And so we live and breathe that.

Fred Rendfrey: Additionally, we partnered with the city and we hired DPZ, Duany Plater-Zyberk, to write the new form based code for downtown Mobile. So a few years ago, downtown had three historic districts and then a portion of downtown that wasn't an historic district, so you had multiple zoning codes dictating the built environment downtown. So we just wrote one.

Marcus Neto: It's insane. It's not that big of a downtown. How can you have three different codes for... Yeah.

Fred Rendfrey: It's our one mile downtown and we had multiple codes addressing development, so we helped write the form based code that brought it all together and tried to make it one code that was seamless and easy to understand. So we do a lot to try to encourage and then get rid of those barriers and those roadblocks.

Fred Rendfrey: One of those unintended consequences you were talking about is that for years and years, the city had a policy where they wanted turning radiuses to have a greater arc. And that's a more suburban code, more suburban geometry but when cars drive faster, it's dangerous for pedestrians. Everybody downtown was a pedestrian when they got out of their car. If you're going to go to lunch, if you're going to go to your office, you're a pedestrian. So we really need to design the street for pedestrians first and foremost. And that is an economic and community development tool. Just getting the street right for customers so that they can spend money. And so there are a lot of those little things that we work on.

Marcus Neto: Yeah and people just don't think about that. But I mean, if you can't walk around downtown and I know we've got this desire to see Mobile become one of the most walkable cities in the United States, right? So on Broad Street we're putting in these bike paths and all this other stuff. As someone who's from DC, I get it because DC is amazing for pedestrians and cyclists and all these folks that aren't car based travelers. And it's just been surprising to me just how much catch up there has to be.

Marcus Neto: You talk about turning radiuses and I'm reminded of we sit on the corner of Dauphin Street and Lebaron, right? We're near Broad, but Lebaron is on one side of us and Broad is 100 feet or so on the other side. And this corner here just drives me insane and it's not uncommon here in Mobile to have corners that aren't 90 degrees. They're either greater than or less than and if you try to turn onto Lebaron here from Dauphin Street, you almost feel like, "Okay, well who's behind me? Okay. Now I have to make the wide..."

Marcus Neto: Behind me. Okay. Now I have to make the wide turn to get onto Lamar because it's such a narrow street. And the turning radius is I think it's a 100 degrees instead of 90 and it doesn't seem like it would make that big of a difference, but it is. And that also goes to impede the flow of traffic and all this stuff. So improving those things is definitely important. But tell us a little bit more cause I know, man you are not bragging enough about, it's amazing that we're turning laws over and stuff like that but I know that you guys are way more involved and what's happening and it's everything from the beautification projects. It's the lights that you see on dolphin street, it's the murals that you see, but what are some of the other things that Downtown Mobile Alliance has brought to life, if you will in downtown?

Fred Rendfrey: Well, you mentioned some of our public art and that's a lot of fun. We do try to do one large public art installation each year. And last year it was the EO Wilson...

Marcus Neto: Mural. Yeah.

Fred Rendfrey: Last year it was the EO Wilson mural on the corner of the A-club. And we're just so proud of that. It turned out far better than I could have hoped. And we also were responsible as you mentioned for the ceiling of lights. So the Downtown Mobile Alliance paid for the ceiling of lights and then the city mobile electrical department installed that. We just launched a program called the mobilize fund. We're really excited about it. It's, one is eligible to apply for small micro grants up to $3,000 per quarter, for things like painting a utility box or putting on an event or [crosstalk 00:11:55] whatever art installation-

Marcus Neto: Your imagination is, it can run wild on that one. I'm sure.

Fred Rendfrey: The creatives can come up with far cooler things than I can.

Marcus Neto: Sure.

Fred Rendfrey: But that's exactly what we're trying to do. We're just trying to make it an interesting place to live, work and play.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. And I just, as someone who didn't grow up here, I see the importance of Downtown, which is why we've made such a big investment in being down here and just we spend money here. We spend time here, we help the other business owners with their stuff. And I just... I applaud what you guys are doing. But you had a post that, because we knew that we were going to do a little bit different format. And so we had talked and you put a post up and you had some people that wrote in questions. So why don't we get to those and then we'll come back to some of mine. And the first question that was asked is can we get owners of empty buildings to occupy or lease them instead of keeping them empty and boarded up?

Marcus Neto: And I think this is important. I mentioned to you that I had wanted to buy a property on Washington avenue and that that property still sits blighted today. And that was in 2017 I think that I approached the owner of that property to see if I could purchase it. And I think one of the things that you and I both agree with is that these downtown buildings that are just sitting not used are affecting the flow, if you will, they're affecting, just the [funche 00:13:29] for lack of better words, forgive my, but it's just affecting downtown in a not so nice way. And so what would you say to the person that asks this question?

Fred Rendfrey: Well, it's complicated.

Marcus Neto: To say the least.

Fred Rendfrey: To say the least, but a couple of things that I can say. The city has been well since Sandy was elected mayor, the Simpson administration has on a tremendous amount or around blight citywide and in 22, it's my understanding that they are doing a commercial blight suite. Most of the work with the innovation team over the last few years has been focused on the residential districts. In 22 it's our understanding that they're going to focus on the commercial districts, especially downtown. Now in that same vein, there have been a couple of egregious offenders and the city has been writing tickets.

Fred Rendfrey: It's unpopular to write tickets every day like the code allows, but for some of the worst offenders it's my understanding of the city has been doing just that.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Fred Rendfrey: And that gives them more tools and options. Additionally, the city keeps investing in adopting the most up-to-date international property management or maintenance codes. And that's an important tool. That's the code that allows the city to write tickets and fine people for not being compliant with the codes.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Fred Rendfrey: And then finally, maybe a year or two ago they changed the definition of mothball. It used to be, you could put a piece of plywood over it a window, and now it's got to be what the clear plastic, I think over the window. And the purpose of that is because it's psychological, people want to have a line of sight to where they're going and when you make a window or opening transparent with either film, like some of the banks have-

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Fred Rendfrey: Or plywood, like some of the mothball buildings have, it sends a psychological signal to your brain that it's a place to avoid.

Marcus Neto: For sure. I mean, it's severely bums me out to see all these buildings boarded up and it's it now... I'm going to say some things that I don't know whether you agree with me or not, but it just seems really kind of ridiculous that these land or while they are land owners, but these building owners don't have to put up the money to at least get the building into a workable state and that they can just sit on this property and not do anything with it. And I mean it just, it really affects the business owners that are around them because of what you're talking about. And so I'm glad I didn't real realize that the Simpson administration was doing that.

Marcus Neto: I do know that they had done the residential blight. And so it's good to hear that they're going to do the commercial blight but, and for those of us that are interested in seeing a good vibrant downtown and I'm no bones about it, I want to buy additional property downtown. If these guys continue to sit on this property and not do anything with it, then there's not much for me to pick from. So I'm hopeful that maybe that'll be the impetus that these guys need to start offering these buildings that they never do anything with for sale.

Fred Rendfrey: Another neat project that we got to work on. And it was in the form based code that was adopted a few years ago, but we worked with the city and the form based requires that commercial parking lots be screened with either a liner building or a fence or a hedge. And the city is requiring the property owners come into compliance with a new code. You're not grandfathered into the old code.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Fred Rendfrey: And the reason that's important is about 50% of the parking lots have come into compliance. So the one behind the spot of T, its perfect example now it's got an attractive aluminum fence. It's got lighting, it's got landscaping. It's not just the yellow chain.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Fred Rendfrey: On broken concrete and broken foundations of old buildings. So that was one of the first things that tourists were seeing when they would come to our market. They drive in, they look for parking spot, they were parking in parking lots that were literally rued ruins of old buildings.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Fred Rendfrey: And then they're expected to go spend money and have fun.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Fred Rendfrey: Just first impressions matter.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. They certainly do. Cause-[crosstalk 00:17:47]

Fred Rendfrey: We can make it clean and tidy, but they were still, it wasn't easy to traverse and navigate and it was just downright ugly.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. Definitely sends a message too.

Fred Rendfrey: That's right.

Marcus Neto: So the next question was does the downtown business community have a vested interest in the return of an Amtrak service to mobile? Because I know this is obviously a huge topic right now because it's been making the news but what do you say to this person?

Fred Rendfrey: The answer is yes, absolutely. And it's a simple one. I think options are good. Multimodal transportation networks for the 21st century are what are going to help cities compete and thrive.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Fred Rendfrey: And we've got shipping, we've got rail, freight rail. We have a wonderful transport... Road network. And we're also in the process of moving the commercial air traffic from west mobile to [Brooklee 00:18:37].

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Fred Rendfrey: And so I think the short answer is that Amtrak rail service in the downtown or downtown adjacent neighborhood is only going to provide options and competition. And I think with downtown will be able to see a direct benefit as a result of that.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. And just to circle back for those of you that aren't familiar Amtrak would like to put in service leaving downtown that stops in at least Biloxi and new Orleans and then returns. And the question now is that there was supposed to have been a study done to see what impact there might be on the port and all the shipping, or the containers and all this other stuff that we have going on down there. How much impact that would have on it and what needs to be changed in order to make that not such a big deal. So I would imagine this is going to go through, it's just a matter of what needs to change before they actually start service. So the next person asked what potential plans for the civic center would have the best economic impact for downtown?

Fred Rendfrey: And I think the short answer is it's not easy as well but my mind I've got two ideas. One it's either a civic center that's programmed 300 days a year.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, good luck.

Fred Rendfrey: Or it's maybe a combination civic center and a renovation or ada-

Fred Rendfrey: Maybe a combination civic center and a renovation or adaptive reuse of the parking lot. If you look, that parking lot is 15 acres.

Marcus Neto: Oh wow.

Fred Rendfrey: And one could...

Marcus Neto: Actually you're right now that I think about it. It's huge.

Fred Rendfrey: It is ginormous and you could easily...

Marcus Neto: Take one acre, put a four-level parking garage on it, and do away with ... Yeah.

Fred Rendfrey: And rebuild the grid.

Marcus Neto: Right.

Fred Rendfrey: The city grid there that was sort of chopped up with the Hank Aaron loop and the civic center being plopped there. The last time I looked, the civic center had about 45 to 50 events a year, about 20 to 25 were Mardi Gras related, and we see a direct benefit when the concerts are here every single night. The restaurants feel it. The vibrancy is there. The hoteliers feel it. It is impactful. Even the Sanger. It's only 2000 seats but when they have a sold out concert, everybody downtown knows.

Marcus Neto: Right.

Fred Rendfrey: And so, I would love to see that thing occupied 250, 300 days a year and it can be the monster truck pulls and those things that I don't have any interest in going to. That's okay. It is the community civic center. It's a community's building.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Fred Rendfrey: So I honestly think that it can be from Elmo to Sesame Street to the monster trucks to the Mardi Gras balls. I'm not talking about the ROI of renovating or keeping it but what would help the downtown businesses is just having it attract people.

Marcus Neto: Yeah and we don't have to go into that but it was a topic that we talked about the other day, this idea that Mobile sits in a great location for people that are throwing concerts and stuff but for whatever reason, they don't stop here.

Marcus Neto: This idea that they're playing New Orleans and they're probably going to Orlando or Birmingham or Atlanta, they're going to drive by here if they're traveling by a bus. So why wouldn't they stop? And I don't know if it's just a matter of there's not enough people here or maybe the facility isn't there. I don't know. I don't know what the issue is. But if somebody's out there listening and you've got some ideas, float them to us because I, for one, being a former musician and somebody who loves going to concerts and comedy shows and plays and stuff like that would love to see more happening down there. I just don't know what that would take and we don't have to answer that here.

Marcus Neto: So actually, this should have been asked along with the Amtrak question because it's like a kind of follow-up to it is would downtown businesses and the Mobile economy benefit from expanded and improved bus services and are there any pros or cons for against that?

Fred Rendfrey: You know, I think the answer is yes. Again, in that same thread as the Amtrak, options are good. Additionally, downtown is dependent on a lot of hospitality workers that probably would take the bus if that was a reliable, consistent option.

Fred Rendfrey: We have a number of employees on our clean and safe team that we buy bus tickets for. We do monthly bus passes and service options have changed recently and so, it has gotten a little harder for some of them to get to work and so yeah. Absolutely. Again, options are good.

Fred Rendfrey: Now the con is the return on an investment to the community, the taxpayers that are subsidizing...

Marcus Neto: Subsidizing it.

Fred Rendfrey: ...the bus service because all transportation including vehicular transportation is subsidized in a way.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Fred Rendfrey: And so, I can't speak to the ROI of the enhanced bus service but again, options are good.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. I know it would be helpful. I just don't know whether the demand ... I know that the people that need it absolutely need it and it's unfortunate but I just wonder if the demand is there and that would be something that would be interesting to kind of like play around with. So I have my questions.

Fred Rendfrey: Please.

Marcus Neto: Yes. Do you remember what your first job was? Your very first job?

Fred Rendfrey: I do. My very first job was I was a janitor at my church.

Marcus Neto: Okay.

Fred Rendfrey: First United Methodist Church in the Long Beach, Mississippi.

Marcus Neto: Now, jobs like that are oftentimes the workforce development that help people understand what it takes to be part of the workforce and function inside of a business community. Right? So what lessons, if any, do you remember from that first job, janitor? What lessons do you remember from that you still take today?

Fred Rendfrey: My boss at the time was the retired superintendent of the school district...

Marcus Neto: Okay.

Fred Rendfrey: ...who was the volunteer janitor at church as well. And what I learned is that if somebody with a PhD can clean the commodes, then soaking the 12-year-old or the 13-year-old that's there as well. So it taught a lot of humility and hard work and I learned a lot about community, churches, civically. So yeah. I took a lot of valuable lessons from that.

Marcus Neto: That's cool. Yeah. I'm not a PhD but I still scrub the toilets and mop the floor here.

Fred Rendfrey: Absolutely.

Marcus Neto: And I don't know why but I think that's important that I still do that because I want, even for myself, but also the visual, the optics of that, I'm not so important that I can't scrub the toilets here.

Fred Rendfrey: That's right.

Marcus Neto: Right? I mean that's just how I want people to view me.

Fred Rendfrey: Absolutely.

Marcus Neto: Now if you were talking, you're not a business owner but you are active in the business community, you've certainly been involved for long enough that you can answer this with some authority. Now if you were talking to someone that wanted to get started in running their own business, what's the one bit of wisdom that you would impart to them?

Fred Rendfrey: Pay yourself a living wage when you're starting out and craft a plan where the company can operate without you.

Marcus Neto: For sure. Otherwise, it's not a business.

Fred Rendfrey: It's a job.

Marcus Neto: It's a job.

Fred Rendfrey: Those are probably the two...

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Fred Rendfrey: ...that come to mind initially.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Fred Rendfrey: I do work with a lot of folks that have a vision or a dream. I get a call every day. I want to open up a pizza shop or I want to do a barbecue restaurant and often, they may have a great pizza sauce recipe are a great barbecue sauce recipe but they struggle to have the experience in all the different phases.

Fred Rendfrey: So we regularly send them, I regularly reference them and ask that they work on a business plan and I can't tell you how many business plans I've seen where they're putting in $15,000 a year for their paycheck and it just doesn't make sense that someone would go through such risk in career change and financial risk.

Marcus Neto: For poverty wages.

Fred Rendfrey: For poverty wages.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Fred Rendfrey: I get it. I know how hard it is but I want people to make sure that they budget and [inaudible 00:27:42]

Marcus Neto: Yeah. I mean even if you hire somebody for that position to run that business, you're going to have to pay them way more than $15,000 a year. That's interesting. Are there any books, podcasts, people, or organizations that have been helpful in moving you forward? And you can't use the Downtown Mobile Alliance for your organizations cause that would be unfair.

Fred Rendfrey: One of my favorite books is Owning The Earth: The History Of Land Ownership.

Marcus Neto: How did I know he was going to talk about this one?

Fred Rendfrey: It was one of the most impactful books that I've ever read. So as an economics major, one of the first classes I had to take was the history of economics. It's just the history of economic thought and marrying the book The History Of Land Ownership that shows the arc of how we came out of the Dark Ages and this new construct evolved where humans, not the crowns, could own land and then the changes and give and take and the unintended consequences that we've been juggling for the last 500 years on blight...

Marcus Neto: Right.

Fred Rendfrey: ...or roads or all these things that are critical to how we interact with the world on a daily basis. Yet, we wonder why we can't move this ball uphill.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Fred Rendfrey: And it blew my mind so that's one of my favorite books right now.

Marcus Neto: When we were talking about this the other day, I just thought it was really interesting because it's like everybody just kind of assumes that like land ownership has always kind of been a thing. But then you said that and I was like actually, okay. That makes a lot of sense, the kings and queens. This is my land and everybody else just kind of lived there as servants to them and paid rent. Right?

Marcus Neto: When you started talking about the book and if we wanted to, we could do an hour long podcast on the book, but I mean I just thought it was really interesting because it does kind of shed a different light on that whole topic.

Marcus Neto: Now you may have to morph this a little bit. Normally, I ask what is the most important thing that you've learned about running a business and I mean, you can answer that...

Marcus Neto: Running a business and you can answer that question. You're integrally involved in the workings of the Downtown Mobile Alliance. What is the most important thing that you've learned about running a business?

Fred Rendfrey: I'd say the most important thing I've learned about running a business is aligning vision and budgets.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, for sure.

Fred Rendfrey: There are new initiatives. Every day I take in new information, I read a new story or I get a new idea that I think would be impactful, but they're all...

Marcus Neto: Got to have that money.

Fred Rendfrey: That's exactly right.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Fred Rendfrey: And I've also... Our organization in a way, we are a taxing district. We tax and deploy capital. We're almost like a little mini-city and I can now empathize even more with cities, country estates. Everybody has to do more with less. And I'd say that's probably what I have learned the most.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, you can't have caviar vision and a cheeseburger budget. They've got to kind of go hand in hand. Well, last question. Actually, I have two more questions. One, how do you like to unwind?

Fred Rendfrey: I have to exercise every day and it went from a chore to a passion.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Fred Rendfrey: I prefer to do it first thing, but if I have to do it at lunch or late at night I will. But I like to start my day off, anchor my day by doing that first thing.

Marcus Neto: And what's your exercise of choice?

Fred Rendfrey: Anything, I just got to keep my heart rate moving.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Fred Rendfrey: Weights, bikes, walks. I like to ride my bike a bit to work. I like to walk the kids, play sports with the kids, that kind of stuff.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. No, I get it. Especially as I get older, it's like you have to keep moving because your metabolism slows down and otherwise you'd be 400 pounds and because I like to eat, I don't know about you, but I like to eat a lot.

Fred Rendfrey: I'm really good at that.

Marcus Neto: Yeah.

Fred Rendfrey: There are 55 now restaurants Downtown, now I get to...

Marcus Neto: I love it.

Fred Rendfrey: I get to sample, excuse me.

Marcus Neto: I've probably eating at every single one of them. I'm a big fan of... And I love that about Downtown its like all the restaurants are very unique. They're independently owned by... Or most of them are independently owned. And you get this chef's style and his flavor and his palette and all that stuff. I'm very much... And I don't know if it's the Anthony Bourdain's binge watching side of me, but I very much view food as an art. I think that it is an extremely creative outlet. All right. Last question. How do you view success? How do you define success? What does that mean to you? Or what does that look like to you? I guess is a better way of putting that?

Fred Rendfrey: I think there are phases for everything at the moment. With where I am in my life, my view of success is when someone is doing what they're supposed to do when they are supposed to do it, so that they know that they are doing their best. They're content, they're where they're supposed to be in the world.

Marcus Neto: They're in their zone.

Fred Rendfrey: They're in their zone, even if that's when you come home at six o'clock you turn your phone off and you're supposed to be with the family.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, no, that makes sense.

Fred Rendfrey: I like being efficient with my time.

Marcus Neto: Intentional.

Fred Rendfrey: And it being intentional. That's exactly right.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. It's been my mantra for a number of years. Well, tell people where they can find out more about the Downtown Mobile Alliance.

Fred Rendfrey: The Downtown Mobile Alliance website, We have a big Instagram presence and Facebook, Twitter, even TikTok.

Marcus Neto: Really? I'm...

Fred Rendfrey: A little bit of TikTok. Yeah.

Marcus Neto: Yeah. TikTok is... [crosstalk 00:34:15] it's a difficult one for businesses to do that especially if you're a smaller business, like most of the ones in Mobile soon.

Fred Rendfrey: Yes, sir.

Marcus Neto: Well, I want to thank you again for coming on the podcast. To wrap up, any final thoughts or comments you'd like to share?

Fred Rendfrey: No, I appreciate you having us. Thank you. I know it's a little unusual since I'm not a business owner, but yeah. It's happy to be here talking about what's going on downtown and I'm a fan of the podcast.

Marcus Neto: Well, I appreciate that. And when we spoke I told you, it is a lot of the people that we have on our business owners, but it's the movers and shakers is what we describe it as of the business community here in Mobile. And we have had some talks about making something like this a regular occurrence. And I would hope that you guys would continue that, because I think that for Mobile to move forward, that Downtown has to be right. And you guys are right at the center of that. You're right there along with us, the entrepreneurs and the business owners and you're kind of partnered with a bunch of us. I appreciate what you guys are bringing to that fight. But yeah. If you're open to it, you have an open invitation. At least once a quarter and we'll do some interviews with... As we have been with people from the Downtown Business community and we'll see where this thing goes.

Fred Rendfrey: Well, I appreciate it. I know this sounds like it might be a bit of my angle, but I truly think that Midtown and Downtown Mobile are Mobile's special sauce. Yeah. And Mobile has so much opportunity, but I think downtown's a differentiator and a lot... It resonates with a lot of people.

Marcus Neto: Yeah, for sure. Well, Fred, I appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey. It's been great talking with you.

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