City contract states hotel must be built as franchise

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 5, 2009

NATCHEZ — The previous city administration specified in a contract that the convention center hotel was to be a Country Inn & Suites.

In 2006, when the board of aldermen sold Canal Street property to Tom Bauer they wrote in the contract four major items to be followed, former city attorney Walter Brown said.

In the contract, it states that hotel developer Bauer must construct a Country Inn & Suites, that he pay $525,000 for the land, that he begin the construction quickly and that he operate the hotel for 25 years.

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Mayor Jake Middleton had current City Attorney Everett Sanders review the contract this week to make sure the hotel’s move earlier this week to drop the franchise was within the bounds of the contract.

“They did what they said they would do,” Middleton said.

Bauer built a Country Inn & Suites, and though it is no longer a franchised hotel, Bauer fulfilled the specification of the contract, Middleton said.

“I’m OK with that,” Middleton said.

Brown said he doesn’t see a problem with or violation of the contract by changing the name.

“The responsibilities are still the same,” he said. “The primary focus was to buy the land, pay that $525,000 and timely begin and complete the construction of the hotel.

“I think that’s keeping with the spirit of the original agreement.”

On Monday, Country Inn & Suites signs were removed from the corners of Canal Street while a press release was simultaneously distributed announcing the change of name to Natchez Grand Hotel.

Hotel officials have all said the reason behind the name change was that it better suits Natchez and its market.