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New owner takes over eyesore on South Main

    History has shown that a vibrant downtown center is critical to a healthy metropolitan area. Examples of this are all around us – Savannah, Athens, Augusta, Columbus, and the granddaddy of them all, Atlanta.  Simply put, nobody wants an apple with a rotten core. Statesboro was facing the possibility of a rotten core when its turn around began a few years ago.
    As with any re-developmental process, there are peaks and valleys. Clearly, South Main Street is an example of just that. On one side of the street, you have the First Southern Bank which was built just four years ago.
    However, across the street from the new bank building, between Taco Bell and the Gate convenience mart, you have the horrifically unattractive and dilapidated Guest Inn, which was the subject of foreclosure by the Sea Island Bank this past summer. Originally constructed as a Holiday Inn on 3.83 acres 30 or so years ago, the now abandoned facility had operated under many banners in the last several years.
    I bring this up because this property, which many feel is South Main's biggest eyesore and a potential long term blight, is now under renovation.  
    Several weeks ago, the Sea Island Bank sold the property to a hotel development group out of Hinesville. Renovation of the hotel began in earnest this past week as all of the furniture, carpet, and fixtures were removed from the rooms.
    New owner, Mike Randerwala, said in addition to the purchase price, he plans to put more than $2 million into the renovation of the 129-room facility.
    "We are ripping out everything and remodeling," Randerwala said. "We are going to install a state of the art security system, internet access in every room, and many, many more features."
    Randerwala said once the hotel has been renovated, it will operate under the "flag" of Quality Inn and Suites.
    "We have already been approved and are looking to be open by the first of March," he said. "We are also talking with a regional restaurant chain about putting a restaurant in here. That deal is almost done. I am very excited about this project."
    Randerwala said he owns another Quality Inn and Suites in Hinesville and is in the processing of completing the construction of a Fairfield Inn.
    For the sake of South Main Street, our city's unofficial gateway to downtown, let's hope Mr. Randerwala is successful.
    Until next week, I bid adieu.
    Got a scoop for Jan? Call her at (912) 489-9463 or e-mail her at jmoore@statesboroherald.net

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