Colony vote coming

Editor & Publisher

“I am more optimistic than at any point since the closing of the Colony six years ago,“ Jay Yablon told Longboat Key News on Friday — days before several momentous events will take place that could affect the final redevelopment prospects of the 17.3-acre shuddered resort on Longboat Key.

Yablon, who has been the longstanding President for the Colony Association of Unit Owners, is optimistic for several reasons.

First, Yablon will soon present to Colony unit owners a final settlement agreement and redevelopment proposal that the Colony board of director’s and their attorneys and Unicorp redevelopment corporation and its President Chuck Whittall have been ironing out for the past months.

Yablon said the agreements will be ready for consideration at a board meeting next week and then they will be sent to unit owners for a final vote. If that vote reaches 75% approval, Unicorp will have successfully achieved what many other redevelopment suitors have attempted — the approval to rebuild the resort.

The other news that Yablon said factors into his optimism is the scheduled closing by Unicorp on the Colony Lender assets. Colony Lender owns 2.3 acres of the resort — the properties where the former restaurant, spa and recreational amenities and support buildings operated. Unicorp has had an option on the property and thereby has enjoyed a controlling interest. But next week, Whittall said he is ready to close on the Colony Lender assets before his option expires. He will be paying an estimated $20 million for these assets.

Yablon said that the Colony has never been closer to redevelopment in the sense that the proposal by Unicorp ends all litigation if approved by the unit owners. But furthermore, Yablon said that with Unicorp investing in the Colony Lender assets it shows the financial strength and commitment of the Orlando-based developer.

The Colony Beach and Tennis Resort operated continuously as a resort Mecca for more than 40 years. That all ended in 2010 and six years of litigation ensued.

Next week, according to Whittall, Unicorp should also receive a demolition permit for several Colony buildings including most of the structures that are visible from Gulf of Mexico Drive.

The buildings set to come down include the conference center, housekeeping building, spa, laundry facilities and maintenance buildings, tiki huts as well as the restaurant and Le Tennique. The buildings being demolished were found by the Town to pose a substantive hazard and the Town has recently urged the Colony interests to take action. In total, six demo permits for the various buildings were requested and approved last week.

Unicorp has said it wishes to redevelop the site into 180 hotel rooms and 180 condominiums with shared amenities. The proposal offers to pay $130,800 to each unit owner, with an additional $100,000 to owners of the 15 mid-rise units with waterfront views. The owners of the beachfront units will be offered a $200,000 premium over the $130,800.

When the unit owners do vote, a potential dealmaker or breaker is Andy Adams who owns about 30 percent of the units at the Colony.

Adams and Whittall have not come to separate terms to bring his vote on board, but Adams stands to be paid about $11 million for his assets under the proposal. He can always negotiate once the proposal is made. It is estimated that Adams has spent about $4 million to $5 million to acquire his 70-plus units at the Colony.

According to The Town of Longboat Key, the Colony is treated by the town as a singular resort and although it may be carved up through agreement between different owners, the redevelopment and the 237 grandfathered tourism units are contingent on a unified plan. In other words, the grandfathered units would go away if anything short of redeveloping the entire 17.3 acres is proposed. The underlying zoning is six units per acre. Any residential units that are desired in addition to the grandfathered tourism units would have to be approved by voter referendum.


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