Bauer buys property for hotel

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; For the second time in a little over a month, the City of Natchez has finalized a deal to sell property to a private developer to help spur downtown development.

Mayor Phillip West announced Monday the final execution of the option agreement for a new convention hotel on Broadway Street.

In May, the city sold the property of the old Natchez Pecan Shelling Company to developer Ed Worley and Larry Brown for the construction of luxury condominiums along the Mississippi River bluff.

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With the execution of Monday&8217;s agreement, developer Tom Bauer has agreed to pay the City of Natchez $524,333.00 to acquire the downtown block bounded by Canal, Broadway, Main and Franklin streets.

Under the agreement, Mr. Bauer will construct a 120-room hotel directly across the street from the convention center. The total cost of the project is expected to be more than $10,000,000.

According to a press release from the city, officials believe that this will greatly enhance the use of the center in attracting both conventions and visitors to downtown Natchez.

&8220;This is a giant step forward,&8221; Mayor West said.

According to West, participation and cooperation of United Mississippi Bank, Britton & Koontz First National Bank and Concordia Bank $ Trust were major factors in Bauer&8217;s decision to build the facility.

In a brief signing ceremony Monday, former city attorney Walter Brown said that Bauer has already finished most of the preliminary work with respect to the design process.

&8220;Mr Bauer already has financing in place and preliminary design approval from the preservation commission.&8217; Brown said.

As part of the option agreement, the city has agreed to issue $2 million in tax incremental financing bonds.

A common tool for redevelopment and community improvement projects across the United States, TIF bonds allow the use of future taxes to pay for the cost of new improvement.

For Bauer, this would allow him to pay back $2 million in financing through the sales taxes that he collects over the next fifteen years.

Another $8 million in financing will be secured from local banks and Compass Bank of Mobile, Ala.

According to Brown, its should take approximately 90 days to secure the TIF bonds and receive approval from the state attorney general.

&8220;Mr. Bauer will use the next three months to finalize the design documents,&8221; Brown said. &8220;Hopefully construction will start before Nov. 1.&8221;

Bauer notified Brown on Friday on his decision to execute the option.

&8220;After more than six months of planning

and negotiating, this was a wonderful way of spending my last day in office,&8221; Brown said. &8220;It couldn&8217;t have been a better going away gift.&8221;