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Bank silent on sudden Normal hotel closure

Bank silent on sudden Normal hotel closure

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NORMAL - A Springfield bank gave no explanation Monday for its decision last week to suddenly close a fully booked but financially troubled hotel in Normal, leaving about 70 workers without jobs and 150 guests without accommodations.

Marine Bank of Springfield, which was in the process of foreclosing on Staywood Inn's mortgage, made the move for financial reasons, according to hotel officials. Bank officials would not return phone messages left by The Pantagraph on Monday asking for comment about Friday's closure.

Dennis Albanese, owner of the hotel, relinquished control to Marine Bank, essentially giving bank officials authority to shut it down, said Fred Rotermund, former general manager of the hotel.

Meanwhile, former employees were looking for jobs Monday and wondering when - or if - they will receive their final paychecks.

"I think he's washed his hands of Bloomington-Normal," Sue Smith, who formerly was in charge of sales and catering at the hotel, said of Albanese. "And I don't think he's going to make this right. I think we're going to have to fight for our money."

Although the bank had begun the foreclosure process against the hotel in McLean County civil court, the case is in its early stages and a judge has not even scheduled a hearing.

The move to close the hotel about 5 p.m. Friday without giving notice to employees or guests rested with the bank and did not require a court order after Albanese gave up his ownership rights to the business.

Court records showed the bank was foreclosing on the hotel because hotel owners had failed to make payments on their $5.1 million mortgage late last year and early this year.

About a dozen other businesses, many based in the Twin Cities, also had filed property liens against the hotel after it failed to make payments for other services, according to court records.

Albanese, senior vice president of the Albanese Development Corp. in Springfield, could not be reached to comment on the hotel's closing. The corporation's Web site says he manages several hotels in Illinois.

While Rotermund told The Pantagraph that Albanese always took care of his employees, Smith said that wasn't true.

She stood with 15 of her co-workers Monday at the unemployment office in Bloomington.

Albanese owes many of them three weeks' pay, according to her and Rotermund.

Smith, who had worked at the hotel since 2001, said that she doesn't have a paycheck isn't a shock.

She said bounced payroll checks were common during her tenure at the hotel.

Describing herself as nearly broke, Smith said she's better off than most employees. Some haven't been able to pay rent and could soon have electricity to their homes shut off.

Rotermund said Monday he has no idea when employees will be paid. Smith said she doesn't believe she'll ever get her three weeks' pay.

Pantagraph reporter Greg Cima contributed to this report.

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