Mayor: Authority should lead St. James sale

Published 8:44 pm Monday, November 13, 2017

The Selma City Council voted during its meeting last week to keep law firm Gamble, Gamble, Calame and Jones on retainer regarding a possible sale of the St. James Hotel.

The council members present voted unanimously to continue the relationship with a $7,500 retainer.

The law firm worked hours on a possible sale earlier this year. That deal with a branch of HotelFUBU ultimately fell apart after months of negotiating.

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Mayor Darrio Melton said the retainer needed to handle contracts and offers as they are submitted.

“We need someone to go through the contracts, go through the letters of intent and legally make sure the city is protected,” Melton said. “As people come to the table, we have a law firm on board to help us navigate those offers.”

HotelFUBU showed interested in the St. James around the first of the year and offered $400,000 for the historic landmark. The deal was repeatedly delayed as the company worked unsuccessfully to find the financial backing needed for millions of dollars in renovations.

The company has since come back and made an offer for $100,000, but the council hasn’t taken up the revised proposal though they have said HotelFUBU could return with their original $400,000 offer.

Melton said the council was aware of the new “fire sale” bid.

“I’m not sure why they didn’t discuss it. They were aware of it,” Melton said.

An appraisal done in 2016 put the value of the hotel at around $900,000.

The mayor said another company has shown interest and said they would be working on a proposal. Another offer that the mayor described as “generic” fell apart too.

Melton said it might be time to charge a public building authority or the Selma Redevelopment Authority with selling the hotel.

“I think having a group focused on that rather than the politics that continue to get in the way in getting that thing sold would go a long way,” Melton said.