Tuesday, May 22, 2018
News Roundup

Clearwater Beach motel declared a public nuisance; owner blames Patel

CLEARWATER — A longtime owner of a small mom-and-pop motel on Clearwater Beach says her dilapidated property has fallen into disrepair because a noted Tampa Bay developer and philanthropist broke his promise to fix it up.

But that developer, Dr. Kiran Patel of Tampa, filed a lawsuit against Riviera Motel owners Anka and Mirko Rudman last fall, contending that they owed him $1,771,202 for loans since 2010. Patel is seeking to foreclose on the property.

The Rudmans' attorney, Jawdet Rubaii, told the Tampa Bay Times on Friday that he had filed a counterclaim, alleging that Patel hadn't fulfilled his obligations. A copy of that filing wasn't available late Friday.

The Municipal Code Enforcement Board ruled earlier last week that the legal fight between Patel and the Rudmans isn't the issue. In the city's view, the abandoned motel at 217 Coronado Drive is a public nuisance.

The board ordered the Rudmans to come up with a plan for the 23-room motel by next month.

Patel, who recently announced he'll soon break ground on his long-delayed resort across Coronado from the Riviera, didn't want to discuss the Rudmans' claims when contacted by the Times, citing potential litigation.

"Anybody can make allegations about anything," Patel said Thursday.

The Rudmans, who have owned the Riviera since 1988, shuttered the motel in 2010 after business slowed.

At the code board meeting Wednesday, Anka Rudman said Patel had promised that he would fix up the motel and let them run it for him. "He tells us what we want to hear, he goes nice and smooth," said Anka Rudman after she addressed the board.

Rudman said Patel promised the couple, both in their 70s, a monthly stipend and a future job at the motel after it was remodeled.

But Patel's suit contends that the Rudmans "failed to pay any of the monthly payments" and didn't pay the balance when the $1,005,249 promissory note matured in July 2013. Patel's suit also claims that he made other loans to the Rudmans totaling several hundred thousand dollars between 2010 and 2013.

The Pinellas County Property Appraiser's Office placed an assessed value of just over $600,000 on the property, but the motel occupies prime real estate just north of the Hyatt Regency and across the street from Patel's planned $170 million, 450-room resort.

The Riviera is one of the last mom-and-pop motels on the beach. Many of them have been demolished to make way for more modern hotels. Others have limped along by renting out rooms for extended periods or with a faithful, mostly older clientele.

About six years ago, the city placed curbs along Coronado as part of its BeachWalk improvements, eliminating much of the parking on the public right of way for the street's motels and stores. Since then, properties on the east side of Coronado, cut off from gulf views and dwarfed by high-rise projects like the Hyatt Regency, have suffered.

The code board found the Riviera to be an abandoned building and public nuisance. Code inspectors showed photos of unsecured doors, piles of trash and a filthy swimming pool. After Rudman pleaded for more time, the board gave her until next month's meeting to come up with a plan to remodel, sell or demolish the motel.

"We want to encourage you to get something going," said Duane Schultz, the board's chairman.

Charlie Frago can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4159. You can follow him on Twitter @CharlieFrago.

Comments
CentCom’s Votel: U.S. will stay in Syria to fight ISIS and keep an eye on Iran

CentCom’s Votel: U.S. will stay in Syria to fight ISIS and keep an eye on Iran

TAMPA — In March, President Donald Trump said he would be pulling U.S. troops out of Syria "very soon." But they’re still there, and will stay there, to defeat what’s left of the so-called Islamic State, says the man in charge of military efforts in ...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Artist Robert Indiana, known for ‘LOVE’ series, dies at 89

Artist Robert Indiana, known for ‘LOVE’ series, dies at 89

PORTLAND, Maine — Pop artist Robert Indiana, best known for his 1960s "LOVE" series, has died at his island home off the coast of Maine. He was 89. Indiana died on Saturday from respiratory failure at his Victorian home in a converted Odd Fellows hal...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
The Daystarter: Game 7 for Lightning, Capitals; shoppers begin Publix boycott; pair pitch bipartisan ticket for governor; meet TV’s Black Lightning;

The Daystarter: Game 7 for Lightning, Capitals; shoppers begin Publix boycott; pair pitch bipartisan ticket for governor; meet TV’s Black Lightning;

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• Today’s forecast? If you guessed more rain, congratulations. The forecast calls for scattered showers in the morning and then numerous showers in the afternoon with isolated thunderst...
Updated: 28 minutes ago

How to watch Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Washington Capitals Game 7: Game time, TV, live stream

There will be a Game 7 in Tampa Wednesday because the Capitals "were the more desperate team," because Alex Ovechkin was running over Lightning players all night Monday in Washington and because Caps goalie Braden Holtby played to perfection.Washingt...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Border agent detains 2 citizens for speaking Spanish; SCOTUS decision could hurt workers fighting sexual harassment; Yale honors St. Pete native Angela Bassett; more in U.S. news

Border agent detains 2 citizens for speaking Spanish; SCOTUS decision could hurt workers fighting sexual harassment; Yale honors St. Pete native Angela Bassett; more in U.S. news

MontanaWhat, is speaking Spanish illegal?U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials are reviewing an encounter between a Border Patrol agent and two women who were speaking Spanish at a gas station, the agency said Monday. The two U.S. citizens sai...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Grenfell inquiry centers fire victims; stars urge Indonesia to ban cruel dog meat trade; more in world news

Grenfell inquiry centers fire victims; stars urge Indonesia to ban cruel dog meat trade; more in world news

BritainGrenfell inquiry centers victimsSurvivors of a devastating high-rise fire in London wept Monday as relatives paid tribute to some of the 72 victims at the opening of an inquiry into Britain’s deadliest blaze in decades. The Grenfell Tower inqu...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Explain this to me:In the world of partisan politics, how is being an independent thinker a bad thing?When it comes to general elections, we seem to like rogues and mavericks. We want outsiders and swamp scrubbers. Folks appreciate a good finger-in-t...
Published: 05/22/18
State You’re In: When fiction becomes fact

State You’re In: When fiction becomes fact

TAMPA — History can easily be distorted. If wrong assumptions are made and repeated often enough, falsehoods have a way of becoming "fact.""It happens," said Andy Huse, a librarian with the University of South Florida Special Collections Department. ...
Published: 05/22/18
Five ideas for cooking with lavender

Five ideas for cooking with lavender

Lavender is almost as pretty to smell as it is to look at, but as far as taste goes, the results aren’t always as appealing. A little like cilantro, lavender can taste soapy to some people, making it a tricky plant to use properly. But, when used the...
Published: 05/22/18
FPL parent wants to expand its Florida footprint with new purchase

FPL parent wants to expand its Florida footprint with new purchase

TALLAHASSEE — The parent company of Florida utility giant Florida Power & Light announced Monday that it will buy the largest electricity producer in Northwest Florida, Gulf Power, in a $6.4 billion deal.Juno Beach-based NextEra Energy Inc. said in a...
Updated: 3 minutes ago