As Colony saga drones on, principal parties speak out

Editor & Publisher

While the relentless waves erode the beaches of Longboat Key, the passage of time has further eroded residents’ confidence that The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort will redevelop into a viable entity anytime soon. 

The consolidation of ownership is still playing out in a series of court battles, primarily between the Association of Unit Owners headed by President Jay Yablon, Chuck Whittal who owns Unicorp and seeks to redevelop the site, and Colony Lender, which is aligned with Unicorp and controls, along with Whittal, 2.3 acres of the beach and recreational property. 

Also involved is Andy Adams, who owns more than 25 percent of the deeded units, as well as parties interested in redeveloping the site as well, including Ocean Properties, owner of the Longboat Key Club & Resort and numerous hotels and resorts. 

Longboat Key News spoke with Association President Jay Yablon, Unicorp President Chuck Whittal and Colony Lender Principal David Siegal on Friday to find out each individual’s take on the state of affairs and what they expect will happen over the coming months. Here is what they had to say:


What do you expect next to happen in the courts affecting The Colony?

Whittal: We are waiting on the Judge to rule on the ownership of the recreational lease. We cannot imagine how the court can say we own the land that was used for the recreational entities, but not the benefit that goes with the land, which is the lease.

Yablon: We are waiting for Judge Rodney May to make a favorable decision on whether Colony Lender violated a court-ordered stay when they started collection activities over their alleged right to collect rent under the recreation lease. May’s ruling will either make life easier or more difficult for us.

Siegal: We are waiting for the court to allow the sale of the $23 million judgment  and for the bankruptcy court to issue an order that it is not interested in a suit between Andy Adams and Colony Lender.


Where does the $23 million judgment against the Association of Unit Owners and its sale stand?

Whittal: I expect that with the holidays it got slowed down. I look at the $23 million judgment and acquiring it as one of the pieces in the game, for sure. But in reality, the recreation lease we currently have is just as substantive because it goes on forever. One thing I find preposterous is the Association does not want us to buy the $23 million judgment but somehow they think it is okay to buy it themselves, and yet they are the cause of it.

Yablon: There is no date scheduled for its sale, nor has the trustee asked for a date.


Are you currently in negotiation with any of the other parties? 

Whittal: I’ve reached out several times to come up with something amicable, but always seem to fall short. I don’t like lawsuits and all of the litigation, but you can’t negotiate with yourself. Andy Adams and I have spoke several times, but Andy does not seem to decide on what he wants.

Yablon: I am open to deals from all sides, just not a deal that hijacks us or offers us seven days a year or threatens to take us to court.


What will we see in 2015 with The Colony?

Whittal: I don’t think court decisions on the cases will resolve the situation immediately. Whoever loses will appeal. With the outcome of the appeals, you’ll begin to see resolution. I do believe over the next 30 days we will see some things that will shape the direction, and by the end of 2015 things will start falling into place. I believe ownership will be consolidated within 24 months from now, and I would not want to be in anybody else’s position than ours.

Yablon: Yes there is a chance we will work it out, but Colony Lender is a key factor. Their strategy unfortunately is to drag things out.

Siegal: There will be more and more consolidation of the Colony interests, and some day there will be a development and Chuck Whittal will likely be the developer. He has stamina and he’s only 48 years old.

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