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Florala to buy hotel property

Members of the Florala City Council agreed Monday to purchase land that was previously expected to become the home of Florala’s first hotel.

Property owner and Andalusia attorney Allen Woodard had intended to construct a Best Western hotel on the nearly 1-acre site located on State Hwy. 55 across from the Florala Wetlands Park.

Mayor Robert Williamson described the $65,000 purchase, which will be made using bond money, as an “investment.”

“We’re not sure exactly what we will do with the property,” Williamson said. “Right now, we’re approaching (the purchase) as an investment. We’re hoping we can interest someone in the property, maybe by selling it or leasing it to a business.”

And even though one door may have closed on bringing a hotel to Florala, Williamson and the other council members hope the purchase will open another.

“We desperately need a hotel,” Williamson said. “In my opinion, that’s priority number one for growth in Florala. It’s a short-term answer to stimulating the local economy. To me, it’s a reciprocating thing — if we can convince an investor to build, they’re going to make money in Florala. It would make money for us — one, by selling the property and two, by the taxes it would generate.”

In other business, the council:

rejected bids for a new fire truck and voted to let new bids with new specifications.

appropriated $400 to the Southeast Alabama Mental Health Board.

agreed to changes to the city’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield health insurance plan.