NORMAL - Staywood Inn owner Dennis Albanese forced the sudden closing of the fully booked hotel last week when he gave Marine Bank of Springfield the keys to the north Normal hotel.
"We're not a hotel operator," said Howard Neuger, corporate counsel for the bank. "We did what a financial institution does to secure the collateral, protect the property. - We don't have the ability to operate hotels."
Staywood was operated by Bloomington Motel Partners, which is owned by Albanese of Albanese Development Corp. in Springfield. Neuger said Albanese gave the bank the keys to the hotel late last week, but the bank had not asked for them.
"The bank considers the situation to be unfortunate for all parties," Neuger said. "We have the first mortgage lien on the real estate and have not received payment on the loan since November 2005."
According to documents Marine Bank filed in McLean County civil court to foreclose on the property, Albanese has a $5.1 million mortgage with the bank. No date has been set for a hearing on the matter.
Albanese has not returned repeated telephone calls.
Neuger said Marine Bank hired Staywood Inn general manager Fred Rotermund on Friday to "protect" the property. Rotermund said he was told to close the hotel.
The announcement came about 5 p.m. Friday and left 70 employees without jobs and paychecks and displaced more than 150 hotel guests.
Staywood Inn isn't the only Albanese property in financial trouble. Marine Bank also recently filed to foreclose on the Quincy Holiday Inn, owned by Quincy Partners Ltd. of Springfield, saying it is owed more than $3.1 million. Albanese is the principal partner.
That Quincy hotel remains open.
At a Normal Liquor Commission hearing in April, Albanese asked if anyone was interested in buying the Staywood Inn property.
"Give me 50 cents and you can have it," Albanese said. "If you think I'm interested in hanging on to this property, you're sadly mistaken."
The hotel was facing a possible liquor license suspension after repeatedly paying its hotel/motel and food and beverage taxes late. Normal Mayor and Liquor Commissioner Chris Koos ended up ruling the hotel could keep its liquor license if it paid a fine and followed a weekly schedule for paying the taxes.
The hotel closed before the $5,000 fine was due.