Board votes ‘Yes’ to new Colony plan

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The Colony board of Directors on Wednesday voted 9-0 in support of a redevelopment plan that was approved by its Development Committee and proposed by Unicorp President Chuck Whittall.

The plan, which calls for 180 hotel rooms and 180 condominium units on the 17.2-acre site, will now be crafted into a legally binding document that will be voted on by the unit owners in an estimated 80-90 days.

“This is exciting news for Longboat Key and once the unit owners approve the plan, we will officially be moving forward with a new Colony,” said Whittall following the vote.

Colony Association President Jay Yablon proved to be correct in his earlier assessment when he told Longboat Key News that he thought Unicorp’s redevelopment plan would be embraced by the board.

Yablon, Whittall, and the Development Committee of the Colony worked for several months on the agreement that proposes to pay $130,800 for each existing unit as well as a premium for units that currently command a waterfront view or direct waterfront location.

The agreement passed by the board, pays an additional $200,000 for each of 13 beachfront units as well as the Presidential and Vice Presidential units where former Vice President Al Gore and former President George W. Bush once stayed. The proposal will pay an additional $100,000 for the 15 mid-rise units which are not on the beach, but have waterfront views. Unicorp also will pay other costs including taxes, insurance, as well as two loans that are attached to the property and association. The total value of the offer is $46,222,000.

Unicorp also controls the 2.3 acres of the former Colony that is comprised of the tennis courts, recreational amenities, restaurant and spa. Unicorp holds that asset through a contract for purchase with Colony Lender.

It will take 75 percent of the unit owners approval to approve the plan that is moving forward. Andy Adams owns about 30 percent of the units at the Colony and could present a deal-breaker even if every other unit owner voted in affirmation of the plan.

To date, Adams has not indicated his disposition toward Whittall’s proposal, Yablon has said he believes the proposal will be widely embraced by the unit owners and added that he and the Development Board negotiated strenuously in their interests.

If the plan is approved after the attorneys draw up a final document, Whittall expects to break ground on the project in November 2017 with construction taking two to two-and-a-half years.


Town action, zoning regarding Colony in play

Two other significant matters are being addressed by the town commission and town staff that will have an effect on the property owners and redevelopment.

First, the town will consider at its Monday, March 7 meeting at 7 p.m., an ordinance that will perpetuate the grandfathering of the 237 units that historically existed on the site during the years it was run by Murf Klauber. At issue is the underlying zoning which is tourism—6 units per acre – and if the grandfathering of that unit count ceased, only 104 units would be permitted.

The town has stated on and off during the five years the resort has been closed that it wishes to see a redeveloped tourism operation similar in size and scope of the once famous Colony.

Whittall’s proposal and the plan embraced by the Colony Board of Directors is to build 160 tourism units and 160 residential units. To accomplish this, a voter referendum to allow the residential density would be needed as well as significant changes to the town land development codes.

Currently, the town does not have a process in place to consider a mixed use proposal on the site and in the five years since the close, there has been no change in zoning to the property.

Town Planning Director Alaina Ray told Longboat Key News that it is moving forward with finding a consultant to help the town develop and write a Planned Unit Development procedure that would apply to the Colony and similar properties on the key. She expects that process to be in place before the Colony development plans are submitted to the town.

Another issue to be considered Monday night at the commission meeting is how much of a bond the town will require to indemnify itself from any potential liabilities that could exist going forward while the owners continue in their redevelopment efforts.


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1 Response for “Board votes ‘Yes’ to new Colony plan”

  1. Bob Van Horn says:

    I use to work at The Colony on the grounds crew back in ’93 and would like to see the before and after shots of the re-development.

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