Editorial: The Victoria’s stable future — Anniston is right to buy the hotel — but only if the finances make sense
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Aug 27, 2013 | 1866 views |  0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Victoria Inn isn’t Anniston’s largest employer, its most recognizable feature or its most valuable piece of real estate. It isn’t a cornerstone of the city’s future. Without it, Anniston won’t crumble.

But The Victoria Inn is worth saving — somehow, some way.

An Anniston without its hotel housed in its remaining turn-of-the-century home on Quintard Avenue would be an Anniston that’s a little less than what it could have been.

Last week, the City Council voted unanimously to offer to buy the hotel from the Jacksonville State University Foundation’s real estate holding company for up to $710,000. The Queen Anne-style home (and its other buildings) is appraised at nearly $3 million. Mayor Vaughn Stewart said the city “can’t afford to not make this offer.” Councilman David Reddick said the vote “shows that we’re serious about having successful businesses that people prosper and grow in our city.”

Either way, The Victoria Inn needs stability and a viable future, which have been in question as it has bounced between different owners in recent years.

Unlike JSU, however, the city has a vested interest in the hotel’s survival. Historically, the hotel’s main building is irreplaceable. Location-wise, it’s a winner — only a few blocks away from the City Meeting Center and Zinn Park, across the street from Centennial Memorial Park, easily accessible to the growing number of outdoor and ecotourism events throughout Calhoun County.

But Anniston is neither a hotel developer nor a hospitality company. Like most cities, its budgets have little wiggle room for extravagant spending. The city’s effort to buy The Victoria is commendable — but only if the hotel doesn’t become a fiscal albatross City Hall can’t afford.

Anniston can’t annually subsidize a sizeable failing business.

Our hope is that Anniston will buy The Victoria Inn and contract with a hospitality service that will increase the hotel’s attractiveness and secure its future. If that happens, Anniston wins. That scenario is easy to support.
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