The Longboat Key Town Commission Tuesday postponed a decision to extend the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort Association’s Dec. 31 deadline for re-opening the resort.
Instead, the commission voted to meet in the next 30 days to determine the length of the extension and contingencies it wants to place on the extension.
Planning, Zoning and Building Director Robin Meyer recommended in a staff report to extend the deadline until June 30, 2014, albeit with three conditions: Secure any unsafe buildings; maintain landscaping and irrigation on portions of the property that are visible to the public and nearby properties; and make sure the property stays free of pests and vermin.
Colony Beach & Tennis Resort Association attorney Donald Hemke took to the stand Tuesday night to explain that legal restraints have not allowed the Colony to redevelop the property in a timely fashion, although he noted a Colony advisory committee met as recently as Tuesday afternoon to discuss a settlement with longtime Colony owner Dr. Murray “Murf” Klauber and Colony Lender LLC representatives.
“It’s in everyone’s interest to preserve the density that exists on the site, but legal restraints have delayed the process,” Hemke said.
Hemke said the association is already following the conditions of approval, including the placing of rodent traps and the start of a property cleanup that’s already cost $35,000.
Colony owner and board member Gregory Russovich told the commission his advisory committee has interviewed several developers and has chosen, through a nonbinding memorandum, longtime unit owner Andy Adams’ Breakpointe LLC and Naples-based Coral Hospitality LLC to develop a $40 million renovation/rehabilitation of existing units.
But a rehabilitation of the existing units, which town staff revealed through a series of pictures have deteriorating second-story balconies and pilings damaged upon repair, is unacceptable to Mayor Jim Brown.
“We have bent over backward to try and save these homes, and we haven’t seen a whole lot of progress,” Brown said. “I am an architect and the hotel business was my business. You won’t get a four- or a five-star hotel with these buildings.”
Brown said the association would be “throwing money away” if it attempted to renovate the existing units.
“I can’t believe that anyone who understands the hotel business would keep these buildings,” Brown said. “I’m willing to give you forever to do this, but don’t do it poorly.”
Brown and Commissioner Jack Duncan also urged Colony officials to think about how long it would actually take to get the resort running again.
“As an architect, I don’t believe you can do this in 18 months,” Brown said. “Stop speculating.”
When Brown asked Colony board members and development officials what would be happening in 18 months, they said they were confident a project could be completed in that timeframe.
But commissioners seemed shocked that such a project could be done in 18 months when legal problems continue to be sorted out and a bankruptcy judge has yet to rule on who has control over the property.
“I get the impression you don’t understand the building codes and complexities of how to get things done here,” said Commissioner Phillip Younger.
Although attorneys for all involved parties said they believed a resolution, through mediation, could be reached within 90 days, Commissioner Lynn Larson — and others — questioned that belief.
“I’m concerned that before you can open these units to the homeowners, many of them will be dead,” Larson said. “All I want to hear is progress is being made.”
Duncan, who made the motion to postpone the extension, also expressed frustration with what he called “a lack of strategy.”
“The Colony is critical to this town, but we can’t end up with another mess on our hands,” Duncan said. “I haven’t seen the professionalism to take this project in the right direction.”
Colony Association President Jay Yablon told commissioners one of the reasons the development team has now shifted to a renovation of the property is because it would have been difficult to get 75% of the votes needed by unit owners to approve a teardown and rebuild of the project.
“A rehab of the property allows us a lower voting threshold,” Yablon said.
In the end, all commissioners agreed more time was needed to discuss the extension, which will be discussed at a meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. Sept. 24.
Without the extension, the property will lose 85 of the resort’s units.
The Colony Beach & Tennis Association Board announced Thursday, Aug. 30, that it will partner with longtime Colony unit owner Andy Adams’ entity, BreakPointe LLC, and the Naples-based Coral Hospitality LLC on a $40 million revitalization of the resort and in the settlement of legal disputes surrounding the property.
Adams is the recently retired CEO of National Health Investors Inc., a real-estate housing trust that manages publicly traded senior-housing companies.
He owns at least 48 Colony units, according to Sarasota County property records, which show that Adams purchased 45 of those units earlier this year through his Colony Beach Investors LLC.
BreakPointe also owns a 5% undivided interest in the resort’s three-acre recreational property.
Another Adams’ entity, BreakPointe I LLC, was foreclosing on overdue bank loans for longtime Colony owner Dr. Murray “Murf” Klauber’s residential unit and beachfront Vagabond resort unit, but reached a confidential settlement through mediation in April.
Adams’ AdamsMark L.P. was one of four finalists for the redevelopment of the Colony last year, when the board selected Club Holdings Ventures. The board voted to terminate its relationship with Club Holdings in May.
Coral Hospitality was also among the final four during last year’s selection process.
John Ayres founded the firm in 1988 as Coral Beach Hotels & Resorts and partnered with Lee Weeks in 1999 to form the management firm Coral Beach Club Co. Three years later, that company expanded to include residential management.
In 2004, the two companies merged to become Coral Beach Hotels & Resorts.
The company’s recent projects include the management of the Sandpearl Resort on Clearwater Beach after its 2005 opening; the two-year $12 million renovation of Casa Ybel Resort on Sanibel Island; and the management of the Gansevoort Miami Beach hotel in 2010 after Credit Suisse foreclosed on it.
BreakPointe will serve as developer and recommend a plan to the Association, while Coral Hospitality will take the role of property/resort manager and technical developer, operating under BreakPointe.
— Robin Hartill
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].