Clearing up any confusion over St. James

Published 10:22pm Saturday, September 28, 2013

Some might think our stance on the Historic St. James Hotel is a bit confusing, schizophrenic even. So let’s try to sum it up, clear it up.

While we applaud the efforts of the city staff and volunteers who have staffed and managed the hotel since Gourmet Services bailed on their contract with city in July, we believe the city is completely out of their league when it comes to operating this business effectively.

While we stand side-by-side with those who believe everything possible should be done to make the hotel successful, we do not believe the current business model and operational set-up can be successful long-term.

Selma’s historic downtown desperately needs a successful, thriving St. James Hotel. Selma needs this iconic facility to become an anchor in what should become — what needs to become — a thriving entertainment district.

The St. James was saved years ago by the city of Selma and a long list of dedicated donors — led by the late Larry Striplin — and became the epitome of classic, riverfront hotels.

But, years of neglect by past city administrations and management companies let the hotel fall into a condition that requires sizeable investment.

Unfortunately, it does not appear there is the will of financial base to do what was done years ago and there does not appear to be a community heir apparent to replace the financial means and community goodwill portrayed by Striplin.

What the St. James needs — what Selma needs — is to move quickly on finding a buyer for the hotel, or a management company with the ability and the means to operate a top-flight, historic hotel.

So while we applaud those doing their ever-living best to make the St. James successful, the current plan — we feel — cannot be sustained.

We need the St. James, but we need someone other than our city, to make it successful.

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