TUPELO – With all demolition and grading work at the site of a former Ramada Inn on North Gloster Street complete, the city of Tupelo has taken steps to recoup the more than $400,000 of public money invested into cleaning up the property.

A sloping, grassy field now marks the site in Tupelo where a motel structure slowly degraded from its closure in 2011 until demolition began in April.

The property certainly looks better, but the city’s significant lien – $419,229 in total – may make it tough to turn the land back into productive private ownership.

That lien amounts to the cash spent by the city to demolish the former structure on the site. A lien must be satisfied when a piece of real estate is sold.

Tupelo’s Director of Development Services Shane Hooper acknowledged that the property’s fair market value likely does not exceed the value of total assessments against the property by much, if at all.

He’s optimistic, however, over the prospects of renewed commercial activity at the site.

“It’s an attractive location with a high traffic count, one of the highest counts in the city,” Hooper said.

The former Ramada Inn, which became a Travelodge in 2006, stood on Gloster Street near the McCullough Boulevard overpass.

Raptor Hotels owned the property, though city officials believe that company is likely not solvent any longer. The financial institution Comerica retains controls over the property as the lender that financed the Raptor Hotels purchase of the property shortly before the Travelodge rebranding.

Hooper believes Comerica continues to pursue interested purchasers of the property.

Such a development would be welcomed by City Hall.

“We want to see something in the private sector that puts it back in a revenue position,” the development services director said.

A Rodeway Hotel located behind the formerly ailing property has taken advantage of the increased visibility and undertaken an extensive renovation of the property. The area has long been a cluster for the hospitality industry, with hotels located on both sides of the McCullough Boulevard intersection.

The former Ramada Inn was built in 1972 and remained in operation as such until 2006 when Travelodge began operations at the property before shutting several years later in 2011.

Tupelo’s City Council unanimously declared the building a menace to public health in 2016.