City running St. James day-to-day operations

Published 9:52 pm Monday, May 16, 2016

The city of Selma is now operating the St. James Hotel on a daily basis.

Businessman Mark Peterson had been managing the hotel but backed away from those duties May 9 amid ongoing negotiations to purchase the hotel from the city.

Selma Mayor George Evans said he met with St. James employees the morning after Peterson’s last day.

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“I met with them at 7:30 this morning [May 10], making sure they understand the daily operations,” Evans said.

According to Evans, mayor’s staff would continue to oversee the operations until the council decides to make a change.

During last week’s council meeting, Councilman Sam Randolph asked who is running the hotel from day-to-day.

Evans said his staff “is running it unless the council approves more funding.”

“Right now, we are in that transition stage,” Evans said. “A lot of events have already been planned for the spring and summer that we need to keep in focus.”

Evans has said the only options at this point are to pay Peterson or someone to manage the hotel, for city employees to supervise its operation or to shut it down.

Back in March, Peterson asked the city to reimburse him to same amount the hotel’s previous management company was paid, which was roughly about $4,800 per month.

Peterson is interested in buying the St. James after an appraisal is finished and has been volunteering his time managing the hotel for the past six months.

In a letter of intent to buy the hotel, Peterson asked the city to pay him management fees until the sale closes. In his resignation letter, Peterson said he has not received any communication if those terms were accepted.

Some members have the council have balked at the idea of spending more money at the hotel, which is costing the city between $20,000 and $25,000 a month to keep open. Through April, the city has spent about $146,000 since this budget year started Oct. 1.

Motions to accept or reject Peterson’s resignation were discussed April 26, then tabled and never brought back up.

Peterson is considering buying the hotel for the city’s asking price of $1.2 million, but has said the property would have to be appraised for that.

The city of Selma is paying Hotel Appraisers and Advisors, LLC out of Chicago $12,000 to complete the appraisal, which should be completed by the end of May.

Should the hotel be worth more or less than $1.2 million, Peterson and the city would renegotiate the selling price.

“The other terms in the letter of intent remain valid and in effect. There, I look forward to receiving the results of the appraisal and negotiating final terms for the purchase of the hotel,” Peterson wrote in this resignation letter to the city.

“I believe in Selma and am confident that I can restore the St. James to its glory and make it a vibrant part of the city.”