New hotel coming

Published 12:59 am Friday, September 23, 2011

NATCHEZ — A $5.5 million construction plan to build a Holiday Inn Express, creating 35 jobs, in downtown Natchez has hit some minor roadblocks, but work should begin soon.

Natchez City Planner Bob Nix said the site plan application submitted by the developer, Sunny Desai of Natchez Hotel Group, was incomplete. The Natchez Planning Commission approved parts of the proposed site plan at its meeting Thursday that will allow the developer to install underground utilities, lay foundation for the hotel, pool and deck and build an access road to the site on Canal Street near the existing Hampton Inn.

The Natchez Board of Aldermen voted to approve funding the construction of the access road with the issuance of tax increment financing bonds at its Sept. 13 meeting. Desai said at the Sept. 13 meeting that TIF bonds will allow the city to issue bonds and use increment tax dollars that are created by the project. He said once the project is completed and generating tax dollars, those taxes that the city pledged will be set aside to reimburse costs of the road and water utilities, which will be public infrastructure.

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Desai said at the aldermen meeting that the city is not at risk for the costs until after the project is generating money. Natchez Mayor Jake Middleton called the agreement a “win-win” at the aldermen meeting.

The parts of the application approved by the planning commission were done so under conditions including the submittal of a subdivision application, which Desai said he was not initially aware was required as part of his application. Commission member Butch Johnson told Desai at the meeting that he was concerned about the application being pushed through in such a short time frame. Desai said he did not initially anticipate using TIF bonds for funding, but it was made a requirement by his bank in order to get a loan. Desai took full responsibility for the absence of the subdivision application.

“It is solely my fault, and I do apologize,” Desai said to the commission at the meeting.

Nix said the city was working with Desai to assist him in the completion of his application because his contract with Holiday Inn requires he begin construction in October.