New St. James Hotel management company proposed

Published 10:30pm Thursday, April 3, 2014

The St. James Hotel could be under new management by May 1.

Selma Mayor George Evans Thursday officially announced Strand Management as the choice of the St. James Hotel committee to the city council.

Strand, with offices in Atlanta, Charlotte and Myrtle Beach, S.C., beat out two other proposals —Cooper Brother’s Construction President Tom Bolton and Roberts Hotels, based in St. Louis.

Andrew Pace, Strand’s Senior Vice President, spoke about his company’s plans for the hotel, but also recommended the city work towards selling the St. James.

“Long term, our recommendation is for the city to sell the hotel,” Pace said during Thursday’s work session. “We want to create a valuation of the hotel that is positive so the city can recoup its investment.”

The city council was given two proposed contracts — a city-drafted version and a contract drafted by Strand.

One major difference in the two contracts is the length of time Strand would manage the hotel. The city proposed a one-year contract with two, one-year options to renew. Strand proposed a three-year contract, which would automatically renew for one year afterward. Both proposals included a termination clause, which could be used if city government decides to sell the hotel before the contract term ends.

Both proposals said the city would pay $4,000 per month or 3 percent of gross revenues, excluding taxes and other customary items, for Strand’s management of the hotel.

Pace said the next step is to rectify any differences and come up with a final contract, which would have to be approved by the city council. Pace said Strand could begin managing the St. James May 1, at the earliest.

One point of contention during Strand’s discussion was whether the bar and restaurant would remain open as a part of the management agreement. Pace said the profit margin for the bar and restaurant, combined, wouldn’t provide a compelling reason for them to remain open.

Though the city sent out a request for proposals for the St. James in December, the process of selecting Strand actually began in September, when Selma City Councilmember Angela Benjamin met a councilman from Anniston, who stayed in the St. James during the Labor Day fireworks celebration.

The Anniston councilman recommended Strand as a potential management company. Benjamin, in turn, contacted Strand about submitting a proposal for the hotel. Benjamin said Strand presented a strong proposal to the hotel committee and made fiscal sense for the city.

“What drew me to them was their complete resume of things that we were looking for,” Benjamin said. “It appears to me that they are probably affordable and have a strong resume. We need someone that is going to be fiscally responsible.”

Patty Sexton, who served on the hotel committee and as a volunteer general manager of the St. James, also expressed support for Strand Management after the meeting.

“They are practical and knowledgeable about the hotel business,” Sexton said. “I delighted to have a company with the strength that Strand has interested in the hotel.”

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