Court Orders Ocala Landmark to Foreclosure Auction

The Ritz Historic Inn, an 84-year-old Ocala landmark on the National Registry of Historic Places, will soon have new life and new owners thanks to a court-ordered foreclosure auction.

The expedited sale was ordered by the circuit court system of Marion County, Florida on behalf of a local lender who holds the mortgage but refuses to take possession of the property.

Whoever buys the Ritz could get a bargain because the property’s heading to foreclosure auction with no minimum bid.

The Ritz sale differs from typical foreclosure auctions for several reasons. First — in a new twist to an old process — the sale will not be handled by the Clerk of the Circuit Court. Instead, Walt Driggers, a licensed Florida auctioneer based in Ocala, was appointed by the Court to serve as commissioner of the sale. Driggers’ auction firm, Tranzon Driggers, is handling the auction which takes place Thursday, January 21, at 11AM.

Secondly, the auction takes place on-site at the Ritz, located at 1205 East Silver Springs Boulevard near the heart of Downtown Ocala, instead of the local courthouse steps, where foreclosure auctions typically take place.

Finally, the buyer must only provide 10 percent down instead of the entire hammer price, with the balance due on or before February 22, 2010.

Despite renovations and rehab work likely to be made by the new owner, Driggers enthusiastically predicts renewed life for The Ritz, a well-known landmark from Ocala’s early days.

“The Ritz exudes charm, personality, and everything you would want in a property, especially one that’s so historic,” he says.

“It’s not out of the question for someone to turn it into whatever their imagination designs — a hotel/motel, professional office center, a mom-and-pop inn, downtown apartments — there’s almost no limit to what it can become,” he adds.

Originally constructed in 1925 as Ocala’s first true apartment complex, the Ritz served as a directional marker to reach other Ocala attractions. Each of the Ritz’s 16 original apartments boasted five rooms plus a private garage. Additions were added in 1951 and the entire property was renovated in the 1980s. Over the years, the Ritz operated as a resort-style business and private event scene, most recently as an inn operation with a $1.2 million taxable value.

The Ritz Historic Inn, built in Spanish Mission style architecture with stucco and hollow clay tile exteriors, now features 32 guest suites, each unique in design, decor and layout — many with their own fireplaces, sun porches, and balconies which serve as prime viewing spots for Ocala’s annual Christmas parade. The Ritz also showcases lush landscaping including mature palms and Granddaddy Oaks, tiled pool and spa areas, and fountains.

Situated on nearly 2.5 acres of property zoned for commercial and multi-family residential use, the Ritz Historic Inn includes four two-story residential buildings surrounding a single-story, fully-operational bar and entertainment facility complete with liquor license possibility for the new owner.

Located adjacent to Ocala’s numerous historic districts, the property provides nearly 24,000 square feet of business space under roof.

With rehab work, the Pavilion, a separate conference center adjacent to the Ritz, can provide an additional 2,300 square feet of space for banquets, weddings, and other corporate / private functions. A gazebo adds additional charm to the property, which is walled for privacy and security. Finally, canvas awnings add privacy and visual interest throughout the Ritz’s exterior.

Interested bidders have two opportunities to preview the property, both on Thursdays — January 7 and 14 — at 11AM.

Tranzon Driggers is a member company of Tranzon LLC, a national auction and accelerated marketing group headquartered in Portland, Maine. Member companies are independently owned and operated. Walt Driggers, president of Tranzon Driggers and one of the co-founders of Tranzon LLC, has in the last year sold dozens of properties and thousands of apartment units in more than a dozen states nationwide.

For more information on the Ritz auction, log on to www.TheRitzAuction.com or contact Walt Driggers at 352.369.1047. You may also visit www.Tranzon.com for additional details.

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