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Town permits Colony unit owners to renovate; owner says more to come

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

Two Colony unit owners, Blake Fleetwood and Ruth Kreindler, were granted permits by the Town of Longboat Key this week to make interior renovations and alterations, demo a trellis, repair and replace windows and electrical panels as well as undertake mortar work and the replacement of air conditioning units.

Fleetwood told Longboat Key News that several owners will follow and they will move to repair the sewer and water systems and make the units habitable once again at the resort that has been closed since August 2010.

The permits, months in the waiting, were granted by the Town Thursday and Mark Hawkins of Hawks Nest Construction is undertaking the work.

 

Legal questions abound

The legal ramifications and whether a certificate of occupancy for units that are brought up to code cuts in several directions and touches on the eventual ownership control of the entire resort and the conditions laid out in the Town resolution that has allowed the grandfathered density of 237 units, which is far beyond the 104 units that is allowed by the underlying zoning of six units per acre on the 17.3-acre Colony site.

In a letter to fellow Colony unit owners, Fleetwood explains his rationale:  “We have done this in accordance with our strong belief in an overall plan for the Colony which is viable, feasible and practical. Having people living at the Colony will make it safe for everyone. We have begun construction this morning and hope to have our units finished in short order, before the winter.”

 

“Does not make sense’

For Colony Lender owners and Chuck Whittall of Unicorp, Fleetwood and Kreindler are simply throwing money away on a wasted gesture.

Colony Lender, in accord with Unicorp, has bought the 2.3 acres that held the recreational tennis court and spa and amenities including the restaurant and pool and seeks to win at auction control of the $23 million ruling against each unit owner that is in a bankrupt estate.

Colony lender has also sent out a demand letter two weeks ago for monies they say are contractually due from each unit owner under the recreational lease agreement.

“It does not make sense. The units and Colony is not salvageable as it exists,” said Whittall. “It has to be redeveloped. There is so much decay and mold it has to be bulldozed.”

Whittall added that the unit owners “owe us huge amounts of money for the recreational facility and repairs and we plan on enforcing that.”

 

Fleetwood’s rationale

Fleetwood explained via email his take on the legal conditions involved in the Colony and the righty of individual unit owners to renovate or work on their units.

“By Florida law and our bylaws no owner can be forced to sell his or her unit. We believe in the future of the Colony and are spending monies to renovate our units, including new electricity, new air conditioners, new water heaters, mortar work, sliders, repairing the roof and trellis Other owners have also begun the process of getting building permits.”

The Association of Unit Owners apparently is allowing the piecemeal renovation of units, but Fleetwood is clear in his letter when he writes, “We cannot speak for the Board, but we thought that you might like to know of this.”

 

Town issues at play

According to Town Manager Dave Bullock, it raises several threshold questions. He maintains that the owners have the right to work on their units. But he says several other issues complicate a simple answer as to whether a certificate of occupancy can be issued eventually.

Firsts, major infrastructural systems are not operational currently including the sewer system and a lift station and the water system. According to Town Attorney Maggie Mooney-Portale, other factors, such as overall site safety, the fire codes and access issues would also have to be resolved.

Another thorny issue is the Colony is zoned as a Tourism use and both the Association and the Town have treated and consider the site as a resort in its totality. Opening a handful of units in an otherwise closed resort without amenities becomes an issue in seeking occupancy.

 

Density and what is a resort…

Last April, the Town granted the Colony Association of Unit owners an extension in grandfathering the 237 units until August 15, 2016. But in doing so, several conditions were agreed upon by the unit owners and the Town.

Primary among the conditions is the requirement that to be entitled to the density, a determination of control of ownership must be made to the Town for the entire site including the outparcels. What that means is repairing units piecemeal or all of the units one-by-one does not meet the right to the density under the adopted agreement.

Also in the agreement to grandfather the units, the owner must submit a “complete development plan for opening the Colony.”  The plan must be in a form acceptable to the Town and at a minimum include:

a) schedules for all phases (planning, financing, design, and construction)

b) specific time frames for submittal of site plans and building permit applications

c) a financing plan

d) a construction plan

 

Whittall vows to file

On Sept. 12, Whittall and Colony Lender will be filing suites in their foreclosure suit for recreational lease claims.

Whittall told Longboat Key News on Friday, “We have a lien on every unit. We also believe we own the recreational damages claim. We will then bid on the $23 million judgment against the owners, which I think will happen in October. For these reasons I feel the owners are not paying attention to the big picture. They think they own a condo and they do not have to pay dues or maintenance. We are not going after the Association on Sept. 12, we are going after each unit owner.”

But for Fleetwood and Kreindler, the Colony situation has simply gone on too long and it is time that, as Fleetwood said, “We owners have to take charge of our destiny. This is why Ruth Kriendler and myself have moved to preserve the units that we own at the Colony and significantly upgrade them with new electric, new furniture, new water heaters, new air conditioners, etc. There are other owners who are making plans to follow in out path.”

Fleetwood says it is all part of a bigger plan.

“Once we get out units fixed up we will take immediate steps to turn the water and sewer back on so that a number of units will be habitable as soon as possible. We are confident that the Town will not stand in our way.”

 

 

 

 

 

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7 Responses for “Town permits Colony unit owners to renovate; owner says more to come”

  1. Georgie McFarland says:

    All that know Blake Fleetwood and all that have read his posts wonder where he comes up with his brilliant brainstorms?

  2. ex-colony employee says:

    How about this..We can kill 2 birds with one stone. Lest’s make the colony a homeless shelter so that way we can take care of Sarasota’s homeless issue and at the same time take care of the Colony’s mess.

  3. concerned citizen says:

    Lunacy lives on. This is like buying someone a brand new suit that they always wanted after they are dead. If the unit owners really wanted to salvage their units, why didn’t they do this four years ago and while also keeping current with all the water, utility bills and taxes.

  4. Blake Fleetwood says:

    My units and most of the other units are not full of mold. I invite Mr. Whittall and anyone else in LBK to come and see for themselves. The water bill is for individual buildings. The bill on our building is about 20,000 which is manageable, even though nobody has been living there for four years and the town has been charging us every month.

    The lies that have been spread about the Colony’s condition have been politically motivated and spread by parties who would benefit from a total teardown.

    There is a requirement for tourist use, but no requirement for a full plate of resort amenities under the law.

    We intend for there to be a full resort in the long run, but for now we will have concentrate on keeping up our units which can never be rebuilt.

    Blake Fleetwood

  5. Be says:

    Interesting? …. I wonder who is going to pay the $250,000+ overdue water bill?

  6. Georgie McFarland says:

    Time will tell as to who’s position on the past due monies on the recreational lease will prevail.

  7. Blake Fleetwood says:

    Mr. Whittall is wrong on the facts… He has no lien on my condo or any other condo at the Colony. He would like a lien, but he doesnt have one..

    His continued attempt to assert what is not true is what has led to a sanctions motion against him by the Trustee for Klauber interests and by the Association.

    If he wants to work with the Association and the owners, we certainly welcome his interest and energy.

    But so far all he has done is threaten and low ball, without showing any monies.

    In the end, we expect to work with a developer to rebuild much of the Colony and bring it back into being the elegant resort that it once was. but for now Unicorps vision completely ignores the history or the Colony and threatens grandfathered historic beach cottages that could never be rebuilt under current zoning.

    It would be insane to destroy the crown jewels of the Colony, the restaurant, the pool, the Presidential suites, and the beach cottages that could never be rebuilt.

    We want to preserve what could never be rebuilt.

    So come work with us Chuck and we can make something truly unique and magnificent.

    Blake Fleetwood

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