A new beginning at the former Colony Resort on Longboat Key

Editor & Publisher

Success at the Colony on Longboat Key has always resembled the Sargasso seas of literature —a dangerous area where ships are mired in seaweed for centuries, unable to escape.

Once the Colony was the top tennis resort in the United States if not the world. And then it turned into a battleground between lawyers and greedy and desperate parties.

Emotions always ran high with former Colony Manager and founder of the resort Murf Klauber slowly losing control of the beachside world he had created over 40 years.

And over the past decade it sat empty and withered  — a graveyard of dreams and a rat infested thorn in the side of our otherwise idyllic island.

Finally Chick Whittall, owner of Unicorp, won over the majority of unit owners, bought the former commercial interests of Klauber out of a bankruptcy auction and received permission from the Town to build a St. Regis resort and condominium project.

But then the final acts remained. Whittall had to settle with Andy Adams and a couple of minor holdouts.

Meanwhile, Whittall razed the units via order from the Town. And then only Adams remained. They were deadlocked. They negotiated and like grabbing at icicles, every deal slipped away.

Finally, this year Whittall and Adams came to terms. And then last month we reported that they were yet again fighting with Covid as the reason for delaying a closing. More filings and lawsuits and legal fees and enmity simmered.

And then just this last Thursday it all came to a resolution.

This time the deal closed and Whittall now owns all of Adams’ units — with an agreement to pay a balance within 12 months. But he owns them. He has a contract on the rest. The Colony is finally under the control of one entity led by one individual.

For the longest time the Colony resembled a dream of  a ship ploughing through rough seas. After fighting the wind and rain and waves through a storm, the ship enters sunlight and calm water. But it always was just the eye of the storm and then the waves and the back of the storm surged even harder than before. This time, the boat has truly emerged through the far side 10 years later.

All that remains is what is normal in the world of Unicorp and Chuck Whittall. They will wait for the housing and hotel market to return to strength. Then they will market pre-sales of the condominium. Then they will go to the bank with the commitments from the sales and finance the project. That is business as usual for a developer. That is tangible. That is not emotional and personality driven.

Perhaps I am an optimist, but we have finally traveled through the looking glass and Klauber, Andy Adams and the Association of Unit Owners are quickly turning to images from a fantastical past. They will be part of the legend of our island.

Someday soon, visitors will fall asleep on the 2,000 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets of the St. Regis Hotel and the tennis legends, Klauber and the Stone Crab Festivals will simply be fleeting images from another world a long long time ago.

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