Longtime Colony Beach & Tennis Resort owner Dr. Murray “Murf” Klauber spent 15 minutes Monday night admonishing the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort Association for destroying the resort he built. Klauber also insisted the town has no right to grant a continuance of the Aug. 15 tourism abandonment deadline imposed upon the shuttered resort to the Colony Association, instead of to him.
But, by the end of the Monday, May 2 Longboat Key Town Commission regular meeting, all owners of Colony parcels, including Klauber, agreed to join together on the continuance and work together to resurrect the 41-year-old Key landmark.
At Monday’s meeting, the commission had to decide whether to grant a continuance of the town’s tourism abandonment requirement for the Colony.
The prior ruling was that if the resort is abandoned past Aug. 15 (the day the resort shut down last year), the town could strip the resort of approximately 85 of the resort’s 237 units, because they were built on the property before town code allowed only six tourism units be built per acre.
The association requested the commission consider extending the continuance deadline until Dec. 31, 2012.
But Klauber said the association was not the right party with which the town should be working and said that a bankruptcy judge liquidated the partnership between him and the unit owners, which turned the tourism units into condominium units.
“I own all of the working parts for anything related to tourism,” Klauber told the Longboat Observer after the meeting. “They really don’t have the rights to ask for what they want.”
Town attorney David Persson, however, disagreed, because the unit owners now control the units.
When Klauber explained that he should be the one to ask for the continuance and that he had a renovation plan in place for the Colony that he wants to submit to the unit owners, Mayor Jim Brown called a 10-minute recess.
As soon as the meeting reconvened, it was announced that Klauber, the Carolyn Field Trust (which owns 15% of the Colony tennis courts) and Colony unit owner Andy Adams (who owns a 5% interest in the tennis courts) had all agreed to join the Colony Association on the petition for a continuance.
On Tuesday, Colony Association President Jay Yablon said he was pleased with the meeting’s outcome.
“I am very pleased after all the melodrama that Dr. Klauber and the association were able to find common interest on this issue,” Yablon said. “I hope this will be the start of other such occasions.”
Sarasota attorney Morgan Bentley, who represents both the Carolyn Field Trust and Adams, told the commission it’s a good start toward developing a new Colony.
“Over the next year or so we hope to get along, while realizing we may be at odds,” Bentley said. “The ultimate goal is to bring together a Colony we can all be proud of.”
Klauber told the commission he will not remain in the leadership role at the new resort, but only wants to help re-establish what he created.
“I love the Colony,” Klauber said after the meeting. “I realize I have to work with the unit owners to create a resort that includes the resort amenities I own.”
The commission approved the continuance request by a 6-0 vote (Commissioner Pat Zunz was absent from the meeting), but not before agreeing to a request by Vice Mayor David Brenner that the parties must provide an update to the renovation of the resort by the March 2012 regular meeting. The commission wants to know before December 2012 if an additional continuance might be requested.
Yablon said the association will select a development proposal this year.
“Our goal is to issue building permits for a project that has received unit owner approval by the end of the year,” Yablon said.
Brown, a licensed architect who has acted as a consultant for past hotel projects, warned all parties to tread carefully in selecting any proposal that includes restoring portions of what already exists on the site.
“I am warning you to be careful about leading yourself down a path that has you thinking of memories of the past Colony, because people are not going to come here unless you can create a resort that people expect today,” Brown said.
Persson also warned there is a lot of work ahead.
“This is like nothing I have ever seen before, and it makes the Longboat Key Club’s (Islandside) project look like a walk in the park,” Persson said. “There are issues upon issues to work out amongst many parties. Achieving an end result that’s very positive is a hope.”
Commissioner Phillip Younger agreed.
“This thing’s a mess and I think it will be a mess for awhile,” Younger said. “I wish you all a lot of luck to try and rise this thing out of the dust.”
Klauber announces renovation plan
Longtime Colony Beach & Tennis Resort owner Dr. Murray “Murf” Klauber told the Longboat Key Town Commission Monday, May 2 he has a renovation plan that includes a commitment by hotelier Horst Schulze, the former president and chief operating officer of The Ritz-Carlton. Klauber’s plan, which he is not ready to disclose, also includes a commitment from internationally known interior designer Adrienne Vitadini.
“I have the financing available and commitments from legends in the hospitality world to restore the Colony back to the luxury property we expect on this simple, elegant island,” said Klauber, whose plan also includes adding 100 to 125 additional tourism units on a resort parcel he owns that sits closer to Gulf of Mexico Drive.
Klauber wants to submit the plan to the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort Association in the coming weeks, in the hopes they will consider it along with the nine remaining proposals left for the unit owners to review.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].