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Commission to decide on St. Regis sales office

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

Before Unicorp Developer Chuck Whittall can sell any future St. Regis condominiums at the site of the former Colony Beach & Tennis Resort, he must first sell the Town Commission on the idea of a sales office.

Specifically, Whittall will ask the commission at its meeting on Monday, Nov. 5, to amend town code to allow a sales office. Currently, the code stipulates that a sales office is only allowed on a development site after a building permit has been issued. Whittall seeks to amend the code to allow sales after the town approves a development order but not contingent on the permit being issued.

The town Planning and Zoning Board last month voted against his request reasoning that such an amendment would apply island-wide and such a change would not be desired. For Whittall, the issuance of a building permit is contingent on his consolidation of ownership, which is still ongoing and centers on majority Colony unit owner Andy Adams who has not come to any terms with Whittall.

Whittall has filed in court measures to terminate the Colony Unit Owners Association as well as an initiative to compel the consolidation of ownership. Whittall last summer said he believed these actions would be accomplished within a year.

The town approved last spring a redevelopment plan submitted by Unicorp for a 166-room hotel and 78 condominium units, branded with the St. Regis flag.

Whittall maintains that an on-site sales office will greatly facilitate pre-sales of the condominiums and allow prospects to view the property and further allow sales agents to present the future residences.

Michael Saunders and Company has been retained by Whittall to market and sell the residences.

The code does allow a sales office off-site. Town Manager Tom Harmer told Longboat Key News the town had not been asked, nor looked in to, whether a structure presenting and showcasing the development proposal would be allowed if no sales directly occurred on site as a possible compromise.

For David Marsh, President of the Condo Association for the neighboring Aquarius Condominium, the idea of an on site sales office would not be a negative and he urged the commission to approve the amendment to the code.

“Being a next door neighbor of the new St. Regis, we cannot envision there being a significant issue with placing a temporary sales office, at or near the entrance of the 17-acre site,” wrote Marsh.

The Town Commission can either approve the ordinance amendment submitted by Whittall, deny it, or modify the request.

Ordinances require two readings to become town law.

Colony Demolition update

All of the other action at the former Colony Beach & Tennis Resort site has been the demolition of the property that has stood vacant for more than a decade. Town Manager Tom Harmer said that the Town’s demolition order mandates that all former Colony buildings with the exception of three concrete block beach units must be demolished. Most of the demolition work has taken place but the mid-rise and some of the Gulf-side structures were put on hold through turtle nesting season, which ended on Oct. 31.

Harmer added that there will be a standard of grading and seeding of the property that must be accomplished within the bid to demolish. The beach units as well as the tennis courts, are not part of the demolition order but Whittall has a permit to demolish those and the work should be accomplished by year’s end.

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