ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) — For nearly a decade, the Hotel Bentley has been vacant despite repeated efforts to restore the Alexandria icon.

Now, it has hope again.

The Town Talk reports ( Alexandria businessman Michael Jenkins has reached an agreement to buy the property.

Jenkins plans to refurbish the property, inside and out. The seven-story tower — the newer part of the property facing Jackson and Third streets — would be turned into condominiums. The remainder of the property would operate as a hotel.

"The Bentley always has been the heart of the city," Jenkins said. "We need very definitely to get it going again."

Jenkins hopes to close on the property Aug. 31, but says "there's a lot to be done between now and then."

He said he is working on bringing partners in on the deal. The property, owned by Robert G. Dean Jr. of Baton Rouge, has been listed for $6.5 million. At one point, Dean was asking for more than $12 million. Jenkins declined to say what he will pay for it.

The Bentley opened in 1908 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Dean closed the hotel in December 2004.

Jenkins has purchased several downtown properties in recent years, including the Chase Bank Building, the Commercial Building, the Masonic Building and the Schnack's building. He operates the Diamond Grill restaurant in the Schnack's building.

His plans for the Bentley include complete remodeling.

The tower's interior would be rebuilt. Each 5,000-square-foot floor would have a maximum of four condominiums.

The hotel portion of the property would include 96 refurbished rooms.

"We're refurbishing everything," Jenkins said. "We're redoing the bathrooms. All new furnishings, carpet, the works."


Information from: Alexandria Daily Town Talk,