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Colony demolished, St. Regis approved as ownership battle continues into 2019

For years, it appeared as if the legal battles between the ownership interests of the former Colony Beach & Tennis Resort were eclipsing any real progress toward redevelopment. This situation changed dramatically in 2018.

On March 16, the Longboat Key Town Commission approved a plan to allow 166 St. Regis Hotel rooms and 78 St. Regis-branded residential condominiums on the site. Only Commissioner George Spoll voted against the plan that will also include three restaurants, two bars, a spa and an event lawn as well as 15,304 square feet of meeting space. The meeting space includes a 7,650 square-foot ballroom.

Orlando-based Unicorp received the approval and its President, Chuck Whittall, agreed to limit all events to no more than 425 attendees.

The residential units will average about 4,000 square feet.

The approval included 165 tourism units that Whittall asked the town to grant out of a tourism pool that was approved by Longboat Key voters in a referendum more than a decade ago. The 165 tourism units allocated was the sum total of what remained in the original pool of 250. Eighty-five units were previously allocated to the Zota Beach Resort project several years ago.

Two conditions of approval were included and by year end, one of those conditions had been met — demolition of the former Colony buildings. The demolition was ordered by the town after its building official found the structures to be unsafe and presenting a hazardous condition to both residents and property on Longboat Key. The demolition began in October and the final building to come down was the mid-rise, the former home and office headquarters for Murf Klauber who ran the resort for more than 40 years.

 

Klauber passes in 2018

The day after the final midrise structure was demolished, former Colony Resort Chairman, area developer and a major figure in the region, Murf Klauber, passed. He died

Dr. Murray “Murf” Klauber is credited for bringing thousands of residents to the area after they stayed at the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort. He passed on Thanksgiving 2018.

on the evening of Thanksgiving among friends and family and an outpouring of recognition and appreciation followed for his creating the Colony, which served as a beacon for visitors, future homebuyers, tennis players and countless others who came to know Klauber, his family and the area by way of the resort.

 

Next steps at the Colony site

The second condition of the St. Regis development plan is that Unicorp must consolidate ownership before the building permits are issued. Whittall either owns outright or has a contract to buy about 75 percent of the 237 units that once made up the Colony. The units are still represented by the Colony Association of Unit Owners. Andy Adams owns the other 25 percent of the units and Whittall and Adams have not come to terms.

Whittall is in the process of dissolving the Association of Unit Owners in court and is asking for a court order to facilitate consolidating the final pieces of ownership. He is asking the court to reach an “equitable” solution and valuation on the units and compel a final sale. That action is slated to begin in Sarasota County Circuit Court on Jan. 10, 2019. If the judge favors a bidding or auction type of process, Whittall says his contract with the unit owners has a performance clause that obligates the sale of their units to him at the price agreed upon.

Whittall hopes and believes that consolidation will be completed by the end of 2019.

On the street level, residents will soon see the site of the recently demolished Colony transform into a sea of green, since grass will be planted within the next month. Whittall says that the 2019 Kiwanis Lawn Party will be held this year at the property.

On another related front, Whittall had his request to allow a sales office to be constructed on the property denied by the town in December because town code says a sales office is only allowed after a building permit has been issued. Whittall asked to amend the code but the commission did not agree. He says the matter will be brought back to the commission in January 2019 and he is modifying his request and providing additional information. Whittall is confident the commission will support his request.

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Longboat Key News

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