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Holdout sells interest as Colony demolition, new resort inch closer

 

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

Yet another hurdle has been cleared by Unicorp President Chuck Whittall on Longboat Key.

Whittall plans to build a 166 room St. Regis Hotel and 78 condominiums on the 17.3-acres that what once home to the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort.

On Friday, Whittall bought all of the interests owned by Blake Fleetwood who has opposed Unicorp’s plan both in front of the town commission and later in court. Whittall bought the two beach front units that Fleetwood owned, as well as another unit that was not contiguous. The terms of the sale are confidential, but Whittall said that it will make it easier to now demolish the entire property and removes one of the last remaining obstacles to his redevelopment plan, which the town commission approved on March 16.

Fleetwood had fought and argued primarily saying that his Gulf-front units could be repaired and functional and should be preserved to add a beach-level ambiance to any future resort. He also objected and said that the Association of Unit Owners and Whittall had not procedurally gained authority to execute the plan and approve it. All of these legal arguments and challenges now go away with the sale.

The path for Whittall is now two-fold. First, Whittall will try to consolidate on July 24, the ownership of what is referred to as the recreational property. Currently, Whittall owns 95 percent of the 2.3 acres that he bought from Colony Lender and includes the former restaurant, tennis courts, spa and other commercial properties. Andy Adams owns the remaining 5 percent. On July 24, the partition sale will occur and Whittall will likely prevail unless Adams musters a significantly higher bid due to the disparity in ownership.

Other than the recreational property, the other issue is the consolidation of all the individual units that exist in the condominium association. Adams owns no less than 74 of all of the Colony units, and he and Whittall have not come to terms after more than five years of negotiation.

Again, Unicorp is using the courts to consolidate ownership through a process that asks a judge to terminate the Association and compel the sale to allow consolidation as the only viable solution to provide relief for the interested parties.

In the meantime, Whittall said he expects that the demolition process being pursued by the town will move forward quickly. He said it will soon look like a waterfront park with all the tennis courts, units, and roadways cleared. Whittall expects all of the ownership consolidation issues to be resolved within six months and will start construction soon after. Although the site plan for the property has been approved by the town, no building permit can or will be issued until the ownership is consolidated.

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