Alex Madonna, owner of the landmark Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo and a developer whose whimsical plans often spurred disputes with planning officials, died Thursday, a representative of his company said. He was 85.
Mr. Madonna died in his home of an apparent heart attack, said Cheri Humphrey, who manages the hotel ' s stores.
He was best known as the owner and designer of the Madonna Inn, whose hot-pink sign on U.S. Highway 101 beckons visitors to stay in one of its 108 themed rooms ranging from the Caveman Room to the Safari Room.
Mr. Madonna ' s other developments included a shopping center where, in a dispute over a required environmental impact report, Mr. Madonna threatened to place a pig farm so that motorists on a nearby road would be greeted with the unpleasant smell.
His construction firm built or repaved most of U.S. Highway 101 from Salinas to Buellton and state Route 41 from Cholame to Fresno, according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune.
He is survived by his wife, three daughters, a son and grandchildren.
Published in the San Diego Union-Tribune on 4/25/2004. (volunteer submission)