Negotiations ongoing in St. James sale

Published 8:34 pm Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Negotiations are still ongoing between the city of Selma and FUBU to sell the St. James Hotel.

Mayor Darrio Melton, who just met with FUBU representatives Friday, said attorneys on both sides are still working together on language in the contract.

“We’re still negotiating,” Melton said Wednesday. “It won’t be final until a contract is presented to the council, and the council has to vote whether or not to accept that contract. I’m just doing the due diligence in regards to day to day conversations with FUBU.”

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While the language in the contract is still being worked out, Melton said the amount FUBU offered to purchase the hotel for has not changed. The company offered to buy the hotel for $400,000 in February and pledged to invest at least $3 million.

“I believe they’re vested in coming here in regards to trying to make an impact in the city, and when you have people whose heart and goals are to make an impact, I think it speaks volumes of them,” Melton said.

“They want the community to play a huge role if they enter this community. That’s why they’ve been visiting so often. They’ve been talking to different people throughout the community. They’ve been here several times.”

FUBU, who recently launched a boutique hospitality brand, is a clothing company that was started by Daymond John, who stars on the television show Shark Tank, in 1992.

Melton said a company like FUBU investing in Selma has a lot of potential, especially on Water Avenue along the riverfront.

“The St. James is the anchor of Water Avenue, and if our anchor is solidified and we have it up to 21st century standards, I think it will attract many investors down on Water Avenue and the riverfront area to be a part of that great transformation down there,” he said.

“When it boils down to it, I think it will be very beneficial for the businesses that are already down in that area to have that hotel up and running to its full potential and its capacity.”

Melton said he hopes to have good news about the purchase of the St. James in the next month or so. The hotel is currently operating at low capacity.

The day-to-day operation of the hotel was costing the city about $25,000 a month when it was operating with a full staff, but the staff has since been downsized and many of the rooms have been mothballed to save money.

FUBU has shown interest in purchasing the hotel since at least January. Some council members have expressed concern at recent council meetings about how long it is taking attorneys to work out the details of the contract.

City Attorney Jimmy Nunn told council members late last month the deal could be finalized within a few days, but negotiations have exceeded that timeframe.

The council initially agreed to spend $8,000 on legal services from Gamble, Gamble, Calame & Jones, LLC, but the council could have to vote to spend more money on legal services.

Once the hotel is sold, the city will also owe $70,000 to an Atlanta real estate company the hotel was listed with last fall.

Phone calls and emails to a HotelFUBU representative were not returned Wednesday.