Natchez hotel deal finalized

Published 11:07 am Thursday, February 1, 2007

The deed was signed Wednesday selling hotel developer Tom Bauer and company the land to build a hotel across from the convention center.

Bauer and New Orleans hotel moguls Warren Reuther and Paul Buckley, along with the Natchez mayor and aldermen, were all smiles at the signing.

“We have a contractor and we have a piece of property,” Reuther said. “Now we just need to get started.”

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If all goes well and once all the paperwork goes through, construction on the Canal Street property should start Monday, he said.

The developers have a 14-month contract to build the hotel, but they hope to have it finished in 12 months, Reuther said.

The hotel also has an official name, he said — Natchez Country Inn and Suites River Center. Reuther said he hoped the title would sell the city, convention center and hotel as a group.

Mayor Phillip West said he was pleased with the deal.

“It’s been kind of a lengthy process,” West said. “I’m glad we’re at this point. I think it’s going to be great for the city. This is a quality group we’ve partnered with, and I’m glad to have been a part of this.”

New Orleans resident Bauer said he had the idea of developing the hotel when he was taking shelter in Natchez after Hurricane Katrina. Then-city attorney Walter Brown suggested Bauer respond to the city’s requests for proposals on the site, and he did.

“All of us have been appreciative of the enthusiasm and concrete assistance from the community to make this happen,” Bauer said.

The city bought the property on the corner of Canal and Main Streets in the late 1990s and sent out requests for proposal in 2002.

Buildings on that corner were knocked down in October to make way for the 119-room hotel.

Bauer exercised his option Jan. 2. His company, Broadway Hospitality, LLC, entered into an option and development agreement for roughly $524,000 in July.

The remaining $471,900 was due to the city at or before closing.

The hotel will be managed by New Orleans Hotel Consultants, a company headed by Reuther. In December, the city board of aldermen approved the company to manage the convention center, community center and city auditorium.