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  1. Real Estate

Investor Ben Mallah pays $20 million for Holiday Inn Westshore

TAMPA — Largo real estate investor Ben Mallah likes to say that while the other kids were out playing football, he was inside playing Monopoly.

That hasn't changed. Last week Mallah paid $20 million to buy the Holiday Inn Westshore, his second recent significant investment in Westshore and his third hotel near Tampa International Airport.

"It's a great place to be," Mallah said Monday. TIA is growing, Westshore is attracting new business, and the Florida Department of Transportation paid $37 million for what it expects to become a transit hub. "There's a lot of activity."

VIDEO: Tampa Bay real estate mogul Ben Mallah mixes profit with profane

In the Holiday Inn deal, the seller was Solus Quorum Tampa LLC, a subsidiary of the insurance giant American International Group (AIG), according to records. HFF was the transaction broker, representing both parties.

With the addition of the Holiday Inn's 261 rooms, Mallah said his company, Equity Management Partners, now operates nearly 800 rooms and more than 30,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space near Tampa International Airport and in the Westshore business district.

Along with the Holiday Inn, he owns the Four Points by Sheraton Suites on W Cypress Street and the Ramada Inn on N Westshore Boulevard.

Between the three, Mallah said, there are rooms for business travelers, tourists and budget travelers. Each hotel also has a direct shuttle to the airport.

In August, Mallah paid $27 million for a Tampa shopping center at the southeast corner of at N Dale Mabry Highway and Columbus Drive that is home to an Ashley Furniture HomeStore, WingHouse Bar & Grill and Floor & Decor.

Meanwhile, Mallah said he plans to sell three hotels he owns in Orlando because the market is "becoming way too competitive and overbuilt."

Mallah said he went into Orlando in 2015, buying Sheraton, Marriott and Hawthorn hotels. But new projects have since started to pop up around those properties.

"I don't want to be surrounded by new hotels," he said. Besides, "it's a lot easier to manage properties in your own back yard."

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Contact Richard Danielson at or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times