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Who will the new Colony be for?

BLAKE FLEETWOOD
Guest Columnist
editorial@lbknews.com

If the proposed developers get a hold of the Colony, it will certainly not be for the owners who have been there for decades.

Under current developer deals on the table, Owners who want to stay at the Colony, as whole owners, will be forced to sign over their deeds, and will not be told what units they will get in return or how much they will have to pay to get another deed.

The developers say they will charge us the “market rate,” which might mean that we will have to come up with over $500,000 for new deeds—with the right to come for 30 days a year (the developers won’t even tell us what the figure will be, even though they know it).

Who ever heard of signing away your deed and not knowing what you are going to get?

For those who want to get out desperately, the developers will take our deeds and to give us a pittance in return—starting at a mere $59,949 for Oceanside condos—to just go away.

What kind of desperate fools do they think we are?

The problem is that most owners at the Colony are so worn down that they will take anything they can get, and woe to those who want to stay.

Hod did we get here?It has been more than three years since the Colony closed. Many of the owners want to blame Murf Klauber for their problems, but the faults, fellow owners, are of our own making.

The Colony should never have closed in the first place. Not anticipating the tangled web this has become, our Board decided to close the Colony, which precipitated many more problems.  They turned off the water, which destroyed the pipes. They turned off the electricity, which let the mold in, and they refused to spend the $120,000 that the owners voted for pest control. Penny wise and pound foolish.

The solution has been in front of our faces for years. We can renovate significant parts of the Colony and fix it up the way it was ten years ago for a mere $32,000 per unit. David Karins, an engineer, has provided us with a detailed estimate. Mark Hawkins, of Hawk’s Nest construction, has given us a firm bid.

Most of the problems at the Colony are cosmetic, according to contractors and engineers. The idea that the Colony can’t be renovated is ludicrous. Dozens of the best resorts in Florida are more than 50 years old and renovated in a delightful, old-Florida style.

Horst Schultz, who built 50 Ritz-Carlton Hotels, said that a luxury renovation on the same footprint was the way to go, at half the price of new construction.  Unfortunately, some of the Board is still hell-bent on a termination plan that would end the Colony as we know it.

Andy Adams, who built a billion dollar company of residential construction and  owns 51 units, wants to renovate and thinks this is the best Return on Investment for the owners.

The problem is that a termination plan, tear and rebuild, will take years and years and is, frankly, too expensive.

Fortunately, our condo papers say termination requires consent of all the owners, and even state law says that a 10% “No” vote prevents termination.

So, all this hoopla about developers is another waste of time. The developers will have to go to court to invalidate our condo documents. They will have to get a 90% “Yes” vote. They will have to have an approved site plan. They will have to raise the money. They will have to get Longboat Key to give them the right to 115 new units (problematic). They will have to build new construction up to present day codes, which will be very expensive.

Ruth Kreindler, a Board member who has owned a small beachfront condo for decades, faces the possibility of losing her deed and being forced to sell. She won’t be able to stay in her home at any price. This will be a devastating blow to her.

And even worse, the termination plan will trample some of our basic American rights regarding home ownership.

Ruth wants to stay at the Colony and strongly supports renovating the Colony, not a Band–Aid, but because she knows that renovation—to the luxury standard of what the colony was seven years ago—is good enough for her and good and affordable for everyone else.

She is not a fancy person, and neither am I. The Colony was always a little run down—Casual Elegance, understated—like a Boston Brahmin, a little shabby.

Ruth wants to renovate at a price she can afford, $32,000, instead of paying $500,000 in three years for something else, not her longtime condo.

If either the Vanguard or CHM proposal go through, Ruth will lose the condo that she has owned with her husband for many decades for no reason except for the selfish greed of the developers. They want her beachfront unit and will not let her stay at any price.

Under the renovation proposal favored by three board members and Andy Adams, we can start getting permits tomorrow.  We could bring life into the Colony this year, without a general assessment. Individual owners have offered to fund the renovations, and once a couple of buildings were renovated, the floodgates would open.

The market sales price would double or triple (owners who wanted to sell could do so at a decent price), and other owners would rush to get their units open for the winter and bring their dollars to Longboat Key.

In less than a year, the town would start collecting tourist taxes and the $2 million per month that Colony guests and owners once brought and spent in the town would flow again. We could work with a developer to build new condos out by Gulf of Mexico Drive.

To be sure, this does not cover costs of the outstanding lawsuits with Klauber and Colony Lender, but they are being worked out and will be settled faster once they realize the owners are moving forward without them.

We all want an 18-acre development. We all want the Colony back the way it was,  the gateway for all tourist development in Longboat Key. But, the fastest and most practical way to achieve this is with a renovation that can start this month.

Blake Fleetwood, a Colony condo owner, is a former reporter for the New York Times who has written for New York Magazine, the Washington Monthly and the New York Daily News. He fell in love with the Colony 15 years ago when he first came with his wife and two sons and hopes to retire on Longboat Key.

 

 

 

 

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1 Response for “Who will the new Colony be for?”

  1. William Kary says:

    Really? The Colony was always a little run down—Casual Elegance, understated…” You just can’t put lipstick on a pig…

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