Colony hits the agenda; major decisions loom

Editor & Publisher

The redevelopment of the once-bustling Colony Beach & Tennis Resort property has moved incrementally closer to another decision day.

The request by Orlando-based Unicorp to redevelop the site into a mixed-use project of residential condominiums and a St. Regis Hotel is officially on the Dec. 19 agenda for the Town Planning and Zoning Board.

The proposal follows the scaling back of the project that became an apparent necessity when voters overwhelmingly denied a request in March 2017 for a denser and taller development proposal on the site.

The Colony was operated for more than 40 years by General Manager Murf Klauber. The resort was comprised of 237 tourism units, a restaurant, spa, numerous tennis courts as well as a beach side pool and tiki bar.

The Longboat Town Commission grandfathered the tourism density that existed at the former Colony. But the current proposal is based on a plan to use the underlying six residential units per acre that is allowed in the current zoning category. That allows Unicorp to build 103 residential condominiums. But by going this route, the grandfathered tourism units are forfeited. Unicorp President Chuck Whittall is proposing that the town allocate 165 tourism units that it is allowed to dispense after voters approved the tourism pool in a referendum several years ago.

The entire proposal must go before the Town Planning and Zoning Board, which is bound to either recommend approval or not approval to the Town Commission. The ultimate decision is in the hands of the Town Commission, however.

If the Planning and Zoning Board makes its recommendation at its December meeting, then the applicant’s materials will head to the Town Commission, likely in January.

The Quasi-Judicial Hearing will be held Dec. 19 at 9 a.m. at the Harbourside Ballroom at the Longboat Key Club.

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