Green Park Inn sold

Article Published: Apr. 1, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Green Park Inn sold

New York businessman Gene Irace signs papers of intent for Rogers Realty and Auction of Mount Airy moments after his high bid of $850,000 for the Green Park Inn was accepted by the current owner, Green Park Inn Inc.

Photo by Jeff Eason

After two auctions that did little to clear up what the future has in store for the historic Green Park Inn, it looks like the third time is the charm.

Gene Irace, whose business offices are located in Garden City, N.Y., had the winning bid of $850,000 at Wednesday's onsite auction of the Green Park Inn in Blowing Rock. With an additional 10-percent buyer's premium, the total sale price comes in at $935,000.

Rogers Realty and Auction Inc. of Mount Airy and Tony di Santi, the lawyer representing the seller, Green Park Inn Inc., confirmed that Irace's bid will be accepted.

Irace stated after the auction that he plans to fix up the Green Park Inn and open it as a hotel as soon as possible.

"We could be open in as little as three or four months," Irace said.

Irace said that refurbishing old hotels is something he has done previously, and he has crews ready to start working on the Green Park Inn as soon as the real estate transaction is closed.

"Everything I own is in upscale areas like Blowing Rock," Irace said. "We expect North Carolina to keep on growing."

Irace stated that he expects it will cost more than the purchase price to bring the historic hotel up to code and ready to do business again.

"I expect a million dollars will fly out in expenses pretty fast," Irace said. "I want to work on the lobby and the newer parts of the hotel first and open them as soon as possible. The first thing I'll do is get work crews to fix up the outside walls and fix the roof where it is leaking over the dining room. I imagine I'll spend somewhere around $6,000 per room to get them presentable with new furnishings and flat-screen TVs."

Irace stated that he first took a look at the Green Park Inn in June 2009, a few months before the first onsite auction of the hotel. In August, an onsite auction brought a high bid of $750,000, but that offer was refused by then owner Ronnie Wrenn.

The following month, a foreclosure auction at the Watauga County Courthouse in Boone led to the deed going back to previous owner Patsy McCain, who was still owed money by Wrenn on his purchase of the property.

The Green Park Inn was built in the 1880s and is one of western North Carolina's most famous hotels. It once housed its own post office and was famous for its spring water.

After the foreclosure sale, the Blowing Rock Historical Society purchased numerous items from the hotel including the famous green horse that stood between the front lobby and U.S. 321, the post office boxes, and several vignettes.

Ginny Stevens of the Blowing Rock Historical Society stated at the auction that those items would remain in the hands of the historical society unless a buyer for the Green Park Inn intended to reopen the building as a hotel and wanted to display them.

"Before I drove up from Charlotte this morning, I was talking with some people in a restaurant," Irace said. "They knew all about the Green Park Inn. That's how famous it is. I'm surprised no else would bid on it. I'm aware of the amount of work it's going to take to fix it up, but I've never had a business fail or go bankrupt."

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