Colony redevelopment plan faces dual hurdles

Editor & Publisher

Two hurdles must be cleared for Unicorp President Chuck Whittall to successfully redevelop The Colony Beach and Tennis Resort.

First, his site plan, which posits a 166-room St. Regis Hotel along with 102 condominium units on the 17.2-acre site, must be approved by the Longboat Key Town Commission.

Town Planning Staff has gone through two back and forths seeking revisions and clarifications to Whittall’s plan and proposal is slated to be evaluated by the Planning and Zoning Board at its December meeting.

The Planning and Zoning Board acts in an advisory role to the Town Commission, which will hear the plan in the beginning of next year.

The second hurdle is Whittall must successfully consolidate ownership. And while a majority of the Colony unit owners have agreed to his redevelopment plan, Andy Adams, who owns more than 25 percent of the 237 existing units, is not on board.

The failure of Adams and Whittall to agree upon terms has led to a stalemate, according to Whittall, hence, his seeking of court action.

Last week, the Association of Unit Owners in an 8-1 vote revised and restated its development agreement with Unicorp to not only allow Unicorp to represent the Association in front of the town and redevelopment matters, but also to allow Unicorp and Whittall to seek the dissolution of the condominium association via court action.

Whittall said he will file his dissolution proposal in the Sarasota Circuit Court before December. In essence, the court can make a determination of the highest and best offer and compel the consolidation of ownership. Whittall believes that after more than two years of negotiation that move is justified.


Scaled back…

Last March, more than 80 percent of Longboat Key voters said ‘No’ in a referendum wherein Whittall asked for 180 residential units and a total of 437 units in 110-foot buildings that many Longboaters found objectionable.

Following that loss, Whittall scaled the height back to within the 65-foot limit that is allowed on the property. The submitted application specifically requests the following:

• 17.6-acre site

• 102 residential condominiums

• 166 room St. Regis Hotel

• Maximum height of five stories and 65 feet

• 15,700 square foot spa

• 2 restaurants

• Lounge and lounge bar

• 10,000 square foot ballroom

• 6,700 square feet of meeting rooms

• 2,750 square feet of board rooms

• Meandering saltwater lagoon

The residential condominium units will have private swimming pools, parking and amenities apart from the hotel facilities, but will be able to utilize hotel staff on demand.

The proposal for the hotel parking as well as with the condominiums is to place it beneath a podium on which the buildings will be constructed.


Points of debate

For Whittall to succeed with the town commission he must garner at least four of seven votes. Points of debate and conversation will be whether the town commission will grant Unicorp the remaining 180 tourism units that exist in a pool that was created via public referendum several years ago and which the commission has the authority to allocate.

Whittall plans to use the existing six units per acre that is allowed in the T-6 zoning district to construct the residential condominiums. His plan is predicated on the commission allocating the tourism pool. The difference in the outcome from the previous Colony will be that the new development will be mixed use, residential and hotel.

The old Colony, which closed in August 2010, was operated for more than 40 years by Murf Klauber and achieved fame as both a tennis resort as well as an incubator for future Longboat Key residents.


Demolition in the works

The Colony closed in the midst of legal disputes, deferred maintenance and the inability for the unit owners and Klauber to reconcile. The buildings have grown moldy and dilapidated and have been declared a public nuisance by the town of Longboat Key. Unicorp acquired assets that were owned by Klauber including the spa, restaurant, tennis courts, florist shop and general maintenance facilities.

Unicorp has demolished the structures on the land it owns outright and has urged the ability to demolition from the town to level the rest of the site.

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4 Responses for “Colony redevelopment plan faces dual hurdles”

  1. Suny Gravy says:

    You can compare the re-development of the Colony to Trump’s attempt at income tax reform and repeal of Obama Care. All are futile.

  2. Barbara Thibeault says:

    Perhaps Mr. Fleetwood has never really seen many of Mr. Whittall’s huge developments which have always added beauty and value to the surrounding areas. Any areas that he has developed, that had opposition at the beginning, brought pleasing and heartfelt results in the end…The Mayors, county commissioners and land owners cannot believe how his visions turn into reality and beautiful landmarks for their areas…A good example is The Orlando Eye and all the development surrounding, which was once an Orlando Eyesore !!! I would suggest Mr. Fleetwood should do his homework !!!!

  3. Steve Keller says:

    This convoluted extravaganza always has been and remains an issue of who gains or loses how much financially as the many levels of interest are unwound. Condo owners like Adams are pushing their economic leverage to find out where the bottom of the barrel lies. Unicorp is doing everything possible to keep the soft costs of the development as low as possible. We’ll see who blinks first. I’m betting Unicorp will pull the plug which will put everything back to square one and result in the 10 year litigation prognosis put forth by Blake Fleetwood.

  4. Blake Fleetwood says:

    This plan is a step backward which will produce ten years more of litigation.
    Whittall has never building a full resort of this size and will have trouble raising the money.
    There are a number of other experienced developers who would like to buy the Colony but the option, for no money, given to Whittall is holding them back.

    If he seeks to terminate the Condo without getting the votes, he will face substantial and well financed opposition from owners resisting a takeover of their condos.

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