Leaders say decision on St. James Hotel due next month

Published 10:08 pm Thursday, August 27, 2015

The city of Selma will have to make a decision soon on what to do with the St. James Hotel after running it for the last five months.

According to Evans, the council will decide next month on what to do with the hotel, whether that means selling it, hiring another management company or another option.

“At this point that is a city council decision as to what they want to do about the hotel. It was a 90-day period … and they are going to be meeting in September to determine what direction they are going to go with the hotel,” Evans said.

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“Either they’ll make a decision to continue, or they’ll make a decision to do one of the other [options]. I just don’t know right now where they are going to go with the hotel.”

The city took over management of the St. James Hotel in March after it terminated its contract with Strand Management.

When the city took over operations, the staff was downsized by nearly half, and the city planned to operate the hotel for a 90-day period while Mayor Evans and a committee explored their options on what they could do with it.

When the 90 days came to an end in June, the Selma City Council voted to keep running the hotel for an additional 90 days while continuing to explore its options.

“At this point I just want to see what is available, what our options are. That is where I am on it. At the end of the day, I would like to see what options are going to be given to the city and so forth,” Evans said. “I want what is best for the hotel, and I want what is best for the city.”

Evans said there are several prospective companies that are interested in buying the hotel, managing it or proposing other options to the city.

A group from Auburn, who wasn’t named by Evans during Tuesday’s council meeting, has shown interested in the St. James Hotel.

“Some people came down from Auburn today (Tuesday) just to have a walkthrough of the St. James,” Evans said during his report to the council Tuesday night.

“They expressed a big interest in possibly wanting to come back and present a proposal to the city of Selma pertaining to the St. James Hotel in terms of its purchase or operation. It was a great discussion with them.”

Evans also discussed some interest from Wallace Community College Selma regarding a proposed program involving the hotel.

“They had some real high expectations about the St. James and what it could mean to Selma because it is the only one downtown, and they believe that it could be a potential gold mine.”

Councilwoman Angela Benjamin, who is on the hotel committee, said Tuesday night that the committee is working on setting a date to hear presentations from people interested in the hotel.

Evans said the hotel has been self-sustainable since the city took over operations, but he did not recall how much it was costing the city each month to continue running it.

When Strand managed the hotel, the city was paying them $20,000 a month to manage it.