TAMPA — A local real estate investor confirmed Tuesday that he has closed on the sale of the 261-room Best Western Bay Harbor hotel at Rocky Point that includes the Hulk Hogan-themed restaurant called Hogan's Beach for $34.5 million.
Ben Mallah said the sale to the Chicago-based Oxford Capital Group closed late Monday. The new owners did not respond to a request seeking comment.
The sale is the latest chapter for a piece of property with a rich and sometimes tragic history. The hotel was built in 1974 and was once owned by the late George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees.
On Dec. 30, 1999, an employee for what was then the Radisson Bay Harbor Hotel at Rocky Point went on a shooting rampage that left four co-workers dead and three wounded. The shooter killed a fifth victim during a carjacking as he fled.
In 2007, Clearwater developer Sandip Patel negotiated to bring Tampa's first five-star hotel to the property, a Ritz-Carlton. But that project fell through.
Mallah said the new owners have plans for major renovations. For now, the hotel is still operating under the Bay Harbor name. But the Hogan's Beach sign visible from the Courtney Campbell Causeway has been removed.
Mallah, who spent $5 million renovating the hotel after his purchase in 2012 for $15 million, said Oxford operates high-end "boutique" hotels.
The sale officially ends Hulk Hogan's association with the property. Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, has suffered a series of blows to his reputation. He apologized earlier this year after a video transcript surfaced showing him making a racist rant. Bollea licensed his name to the restaurant but did not have an ownership interest, Mallah said.
Speculation in the wrestling world suggested Bollea's public woes had something to do with the decision to sell. But Mallah said that was not the case.
"Basically everything with us is timing," Mallah said. "We buy assets and fix them up. The market is high right now. Tampa's hot … Hogan had nothing to do with it. He was fine. Ultimately, we're in the real estate business, not in the restaurant business."
Oxford boasts that the company and its affiliates have been involved in about $2.5 billion of real estate and private equity transactions, which include 12,000 hotel rooms.
Contact William R. Levesque at [email protected] Follow @Times_Levesque.