City has more important issues than St. James Hotel

Published 9:51 pm Tuesday, April 19, 2016

BY JAMES G. SMITH | Columnist

I think a lot of people are like me and have lost confidence in the city to manage or dispose of the St. James Hotel.

This thing has dragged on and on and back and forth until the outcome is doubtful.

Email newsletter signup

The question becomes, why keep spending good money chasing bad?

Perhaps, the city should have turned it over to a commercial realtor when the first lessee gave it up as a lost cause. A realtor with a reputable firm that deals with like kind properties, and seeks buyers nationally.

I believe it is going to take someone with deep pockets to ever make it work.

A buyer willing to invest some money to bring it back in good condition and not expect immediate results, but rather a gradual return on investment.

Someone who realizes this is a small venue with limited rooms and must in some other way establish a clientele for goods and services provided there.

If it is impossible to do this, then all the efforts and money most likely will have been in vain.

Getting an appraisal is fine, but where do you go from there? If the appraisal doesn’t result in an outright sale of the property, it needs to be placed in a professional commercial real estate firms hands to market nationally and seek out a buyer for it.

The way I see it, a clean sale of the property is the best way forward for the city.

After all the turmoil, anguish, donated and taxpayer money spent on the St. James, it is still an Achilles heel.

If the past clientele and lessee had been a little kinder and more respectful of the facility, it probably wouldn’t be in such disrepair. However, any business operating at a loss will find it difficult to keep plowing money into a failing endeavor, thereby neglecting the facility.

If other taxpayers are like me, they are weary of the back and forth with the St. James.

I believe it has gotten a little over the heads of the city to market this property.

Professional help should be sought at this juncture to limit further taxpayer dollars being wasted.

The city has many more pressing issues to be concerned about including better pay and hiring more police officers.

One of the problems faced by the hotel is the violence here deterring visitors from coming.

The money being spent on the St. James could be going toward upgrading the police department. The number one priority of city government should be the safety of the people it serves.

It has almost become a war zone here and improvements are needed to ensure the safety of residents and visitors alike.

At least, that’s the way I see it.

James G. Smith is a regular contributor to The Selma Times-Journal. He can be reached at