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Economy stalls motel project

A local construction project that stalled out when the economyturned sour will remain on hiatus until further financial supportis secured.

The steel skeleton of the paused expansion to Brookhaven’s HolidayInn Express has stood bare adjacent to Interstate 55 for more thanone year, and project front man Sunny Sehti said the approximately$7 million job would remain incomplete until financing is found.About $2 million had already been invested in the completedframework before the job’s financers backed out on the deal, hesaid.

“Until we can find the person who can finance the project, we’re atthe mercy of the economy,” Sehti said. “There’s a lot of interest,but no one is willing to get the deal done.”

Sehti said he needs around $5 million in financing to finishbuilding the hotel, which stands at around 25 percent complete. Themoney would finish out the construction of the building and furnishthe hotel rooms, he said.

“If any banker in Brookhaven wants to help…” he hinted.

The construction permit for Sehti’s project was issued in June 2008for $6,660, and work continued until November that year. Cityinspector Chip Gennaro said the permit has expired, and the companywill have to get a second round of approval when the projectrestarts.

“For something of that size, we give them a little longer than ayear if they’ve been working on it, but it’s sat there at least agood year,” he said.

Brookhaven Mayor Les Bumgarner said he understands Sehti’s plight,saying this isn’t the first time someone has gotten into the middleof a project and had to back down.

“Almost everybody would like to see it completed for sure, not onlyto put it on the tax rolls but to make the entrance to Brookhavenlook a lot better,” Bumgarner said.

The only other game in town as far as new construction is thecoming of Pike National Bank. Gennaro said his office is reviewingplans for the almost 10,000 square-foot bank that will be built atthe corner of Highway 51 and Union St. A construction permit hasnot yet been issued, he said.

A handful of houses are under construction in the city, along withseveral remodeling projects, Gennaro said.