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Colony demo starts slowly as Unicorp buys final 5%

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

The demolition was more symbolic than structural at the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort last week.

On Thursday, contractors for Unicorp ripped off a few dilapidated wooden balconies mainly as a symbolic gesture for the crowd of reporters and interested onlookers who gathered to see the beginning of what should soon be a cleared site.

According to Unicorp President Chuck Whittall — who has approval to build a 166-room St. Regis Hotel and 78 condominiums on the site — the true demolition is delayed until August to allow the abatement of asbestos and will likely take a few months to complete.

“It is a series of hurdles, but today marks the beginning. It is bittersweet. The Colony was a great resort and memories were made there. What we build in its place will be extraordinary and the best of its generation,” said Whittall.

The state of the Colony is such that the Town of Longboat Key ordered the demolition after a series of hearings and a court challenge. In essence, the Town deems the buildings unsafe and a threat to residents and properties. Whittall and Unicorp are demolishing the property because Unicorp tendered a $0 bid to the Town since it is the approved developer of the site and would have ended up paying for the demolition costs anyway.

 

Illustrious past

The imitable Murf Klauber developed the Colony into a world-renowned establishment that hosted the likes of President George Bush, Dustin Hoffman, John Madden, James Taylor, Dudley Moore, Howard Stern, Diana Ross, Al Gore and numerous tennis greats.

After more than four decades, fighting and a battle between the unit owners and the manager (Klauber) led to the Colony demise. The courts found that the failure of the resort was in the end due to the unit owners’ refusal to pay the assessments demanded by Klauber for repairs and maintenance and subsequent battles.

Unicorp and Whittall have successfully consolidated ownership with the exception of the 74 units owned by Andy Adams. Whittall is taking Adams to court to ask a judge to compel the sale of the outstanding Colony units.

 

Courting success

Last Tuesday, Unicorp did consolidate final ownership of the outstanding 5% of the commercial interests at the Colony. Unicorp owned the other 95% and Colony investor Andy Adams owned the other 5%. The two bid against each other on the value of the total 2.3 acres of commercial property that once included the Colony Restaurant, spa, tennis courts and other amenities. The bid went up to $29.51 million and Unicorp paid Adams $1.4755 million, or 5% of the total bid.

Whittall hopes to soon buy in court Adams’ condo units and dissolve the Association and then begin construction next summer or fall. The Town will not issue a building permit until he has complete and clear ownership of the entire 17.6-acre site.

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