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Final piece of Colony puzzle nearly in place after a decade

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

Not every past owner of a unit at the former Colony Beach & Tennis Resort has agreed to sell to Unicorp. A total of nine former owners opted instead to receive 30 days annually in a to-be-built unit in the future St. Regis Hotel and Condominiums.

Unicorp President Chuck Whittall, who is developing the site, negotiated with each and every owner of the former Colony and the vast majority decided to sell.

Of the original 100-plus owners, only nine desired to have in the future what they originally bought years ago from Murf Klauber at the Colony – a guaranteed 30 days stay at the Gulf-front resort. That was an option Whittall offered in the negotiations.

Whittall and the group of nine must agree on terms such as which building such units will be located in, and how many units will be made available.

Longboat Key News was told Whittall has agreed to provide two units in the residential condominium part of the development, and they will be likely two bedrooms apiece and much larger, almost 2,000 square feet — more than twice the size of what the owners had in the former Colony.

Whittall is reportedly offering the two units to be located not directly on the beachfront, but on the fourth or fifth floor, which will afford views of the Bay.

In order to fully close on the future condominiums and gain financing for his project, Whittall must first pay all of the owners for the units under contract and also reach an acceptable agreement with the nine part-time tenants. Also, the Colony Condominium Association must be terminated. It is expected that these three actions will all take place in a 48-hour period toward the end of February 2021.

A couple of months ago, Whittall bought all of Andy Adams’ units in the single largest transfer of ownership. Adams owned 74 units and had fought Whittall’s development plan for two years before finally coming to terms with the Unicorp President earlier this year.

The entire project will be built as one — the hotel resort and condos all under the St. Regis moniker.

The building plans are nearly complete, says Whittall, and construction is due to begin next summer.

Whittall’s plans include the 69 residential units that will be built in three buildings on the southern side of the property, which includes more than 400 feet of beachfront. To the north a 166-room hotel is planned along with pools, spas, restaurants and numerous amenities that will cater to both guests as well as the residences.

Whittall says already converted 1/3 of the future condominiums into hard purchase contracts. His goal is to secure more than 50% in presales and then finance the rest of the project. He said his company is going to request bids in the coming days for the estimated hard construction costs of about $230 million. Other stages and aspects of the development will be bid later.

The founder of the former Colony Beach & Tennis Resort, Murf Klauber, had sold the original 237 units one by one and deeded the units to individual owners while retaining the right to manage and rent the condos for 11 months out of the year.

Over time, the unit owner fought Klauber over assessments and dragged the resort into bankruptcy and closure. Unit owners sued Klauber, Klauber sued unit owners, Unit owners sued each other and eventually Whittle entered the fray. All the while in the backdrop the Colony stood fallow until the Town ordered its demolition.

Whittall expects construction to commence next summer.

“Once I open the St. Regis, I will take a breather,” he said.

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