St. James could be listed next week

Published 11:47 pm Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The St. James Hotel could be listed with a national realtor as soon as Monday.

Councilwoman Susan Keith recommended realtor Wendy Blissett of Hotel Assets Group to the city council Tuesday and said she could set up a meeting with Blissett on Monday. Once that meeting is scheduled, the council discussed the possibility of calling a special meeting Monday afternoon to discuss listing the hotel.

Keith said Blissett helped broker a deal in Anniston to sell the Victoria Inn, which was a similar situation to that of the St. James. The city of Anniston had taken on ownership of the hotel before selling it last year.

“Because she is familiar with and has dealt with an Alabama hotel, I recommend we talk with Wendy about listing this,” Keith said. “She didn’t have a time but she can meet with us Monday if that’s the pleasure of the council.”

Keith said the city has also drawn interest from several interested parties, including the Wyndham Gardens Group, which visited the hotel last week. Another person interested was Kenneth Moore from the Janee Hotel Group. Moore as at the meeting and spoke to the council on Tuesday night.

If everything goes well, Moore said Janee could present a letter of intent next week.

“I think with the right concept, right strategy for the St. James it could be turned into a very beautiful property,” Moore said.

Councilman Cecil Williamson again made a motion to close the St. James. It was the third straight meeting where Williamson had made the motion, but this time he got a second from Greg Bjelke, who was frustrated that the hotel had not been listed yet.

“Didn’t we say a month ago we were going to list it?” Bjelke said.

In the end, the motion was voted down 6-2.  Since April 2015, the hotel has cost the city around $300,000 due to salaries and supplies.

“We voted a month ago to list this hotel with a realtor and it is costing us $25,000 a month to keep it open,” Williamson said.

Council members Angela Benjamin and B.L. Tucker noted that the hotel couldn’t be closed because events are already scheduled to take place there in the upcoming months.

“What kind of insanity is it to have events that are costing us money?” Williamson said.

Selma Mayor George Evans said the hotel has started cutting back on employees. He said it would be a big mistake to close the St. James right now.

“When you close those doors all kind of things happen. I do agree we need to go ahead and list the hotel,” Evans said. “To close it I think would be a disaster, because at the end of the day it takes away a lot of things we are trying to do.”

Evans also asked about whether local realtors should have a chance to be involved in the selling process. Keith said it wouldn’t be fair for local realtors to get involved after the city had done all the work.

“Where were they two years ago when we were struggling with this?” Keith asked.

The council also discussed how listing the hotel with a national realtor would affect any potential deal with Moore.  Keith said Moore could be excluded in the realty contract, if the city chooses to do so.