|By Mary Ann Ford, The Pantagraph,
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Apr. 7, 2006 - NORMAL -- A bank has filed for foreclosure on the former Holiday Inn in north Normal, and its owners are trying to sell it.
That information came out during a Normal Liquor Commission hearing Thursday on charges the business failed to pay its November hotel/motel taxes on time -- the latest in a string of late payments to the town.
"Are you interested in buying the property?" Dennis Albanese asked during his hearing testimony. "Give me 50 cents and you can have it. If you think I'm interested in hanging on to this property, you're sadly mistaken."
Albanese is vice president of Albanese Development Corp. of Springfield, which owns and manages the hotel, now known as Staywood Inn Hotel & Conference Center, at 8 Traders Circle.
The hearing was scheduled to determine the fate of the hotel's liquor license, which is in jeopardy because of the numerous delinquent payments of hotel/motel taxes, food and beverage taxes and water bills.
While testimony in the case concluded Thursday, Mayor and Liquor Commissioner Chris Koos will not make a ruling until Friday. Hearing officer Rusty DePew gave Normal town attorney Wayne Karplus until Monday and Albanese's attorney David Stanczak until Wednesday to file written closing arguments.
DePew said Koos is "interested in fashioning a creative order" in the case. The hotel was nearly a month late paying its November hotel/motel tax. The tax is due by the end of the following month.
In November, the Liquor Commission suspended the hotel's liquor license for five days for paying August and September hotel/motel taxes late. That followed a $2,500 fine the business got in September for paying its April, May and July hotel/motel and food and beverage taxes late.
But Stanczak said the former Holiday Inn was not the only Normal hotel late on taxes. Days Inn paid its hotel/motel taxes late 11 of the 12 months in 2005.
Pat Tucker, fiscal supervisor for the town's finance department, said Days Inn was sent a bill for the late fees and Karplus said the town filed a lawsuit against the hotel. The late fees were paid before the case went to court.
Glen Rosecrans, superintendent of the town's fire prevention division and a fire inspector, testified the former Holiday Inn was cited for numerous fire code violations during a Jan. 31 inspection and it took three return inspections before all the problems were fixed.
Fred Rotermund, the hotel's general manager, said he was unaware of the fire code problems until much later because Rosecrans talked to the maintenance chief who failed to pass on the information.
Rotermund said he was hired to get the hotel in good operational shape so it could be sold. He said previous managers had mismanaged the business with out-of-line expenses and a payroll twice what it should have been. Albanese said the hotel has been listed with a professional hotel broker for a year.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Ill.
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