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Madonias’ farming empire and more auctioned for $68.7 million

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Published:   |   Updated: August 22, 2013 at 08:00 AM

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PLANT CITY -  More than 10,000 acres, homes and other assets owned by Evelyn and Batista Madonia Sr. have been auctioned for more than $68.7 millon.

Auctioneers on Tuesday wrapped up bidding on Virginia properties owned by the Madonias. The Madonias made a fortune in the tomato business but are probably best known for their ownership of the Old South-themed Red Rose Inn and Suites.

Only farming equipment remains to be sold from the Madonia farming empire. The couple earlier this year filed for bankruptcy protection for themselves and companies they controlled.

The bids are subject to bankruptcy court approval.

The properties were offered for sale during four days of auctions this week and last in Florida and Virginia.

“We did really well,” said Carl Carter, spokesman for the auction company, Murray Wise Associates.

Here’s the breakdown in what was auctioned:

Nearly 7,400 acres in Florida, packing houses and labor housing, $48.7 million

The Red Rose Inn and Suites, homes and other nonfarming assets, $3.7 million

More than 3,200 acres in Virginia, packing houses and other properties, $13.1 million

Several Virginia homes and other nonfarming assets, $2.6 million

Bankruptcy trustee Gerard McHale Jr. has accepted all the bids except for the one on the Red Rose, which he has taken under advisement. Carter expects an announcement on the bid for the 261-room hotel in the near future.

The auction company would not identify any of the winning bidders.

The Red Rose was shuttered more than a year ago by the Madonias, who had owned the hotel at Wheeler Street and Interstate 4 since 2002. The red-haired Evelyn became a local celebrity for the evening gowns she would often wear for TV commercials for the Red Rose.

The Madonias were known for their generosity to many charitable causes, including a South Florida Baptist Hospital heart and vascular center.

Besides the Red Rose, other Plant City assets owned by the Madonias that were auction included a warehouse at 1002 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., which sold for $180,000, and adjoining lots on Polo Place in Walden Lake that sold for a total of $250,000.

City commissioner and Rick Lott said he bought the Walden Lake lots, which he said are located on the street where he lives. He said he bought the lots to one day give to his son and daughter.

Twitter: @dnicholsonTrib

dnicholson@tampatrib.com

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