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Pinellas man signs $1.5 million deal for Plant City’s Red Rose Inn

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Published:   |   Updated: December 19, 2013 at 07:02 AM

PLANT CITY — An iconic hotel that has been closed for 17 months might be getting a new owner.

Louis Spiro, who lists a Pinellas Park address in court records, has agreed to buy the Red Rose Inn and Suites for $1.5 million. He told bankruptcy court trustee Jerry McHale that he will close on the deal by Friday.

Spiro couldn’t be reached for comment on his plans for the 261-room hotel that Evelyn and Batista Madonia Sr. shuttered in May 2012 as their finances collapsed. Spiro’s attorney, Donald J. Schutz of St. Petersburg, declined comment.

The Madonias, who made a fortune in the tomato business but were best known for their hotel, filed for bankruptcy protection in March. The hotel was their final asset to be sold to repay their debts.

The proposed sales price is a fraction of the $5 million that the Madonias spent to buy and renovate the aging hotel a decade ago.

The hotel was built more than 40 years ago at Interstate 4 and Wheeler Street as a Holiday Inn. It became an important part of Plant City due to its prime location, restaurant and ballroom with space for as many as 500 guests.

Evelyn Madonia, known for the elegant gowns she wore in local TV commercials, added the Southern charm and grace that made it such a part of the community fabric. Rooms and decorations often reflected her love for the movie “Gone with the Wind.”

In all, sales of assets owned by the Madonias and their companies, including 10,000 acres of farmland, packing houses and residences in several states, brought in $77.3 million, said Carl Carter, spokesman for Murray Wise Associates, which handled the auctions and sale.

An unidentified bidder offered $2.1 million for the Red Rose at an auction in August, but the offer was rejected as too low. The property was placed up for sale, and Spiro’s offer was the highest.

Carter said it’s not uncommon for a property to sell less than a bid submitted at an auction.

 

dnicholson@tampatrib.com

(813) 394-5103

Twitter: @dnicholsonTrib

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