“This is affecting our property values.”
Commissioners have heard fed-up residents say it whenever the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort is discussed.
The frustration is especially pronounced at the Colony’s next-door neighbor, the Aquarius Club, which has several units that overlook the shuttered resort. Residents of the condominium have emailed commissioners en masse, urging them not to approve an extension of the resort’s tourism use.
The commission has heard residents who live further away from the Colony, in neighborhoods such as Bay Isles and Country Club Shores, who have said their property values are also impacted.
But, emotions aside, is the perception that the Colony is adversely affecting Key real estate a reality?
Residents of Aquarius Club and Tencon Beach have complained about the property’s appearance, as well as rodents, trespassing and potential safety concerns.
It’s difficult to quantify the effect even on the properties adjacent to the resort: the 10-unit Tencon is located directly south of the property, and the Aquarius Club is located to its north.
At Tencon, sales have historically been rare. Four of the property’s 10 owners purchased their units new in 1978, and just two bought their units in the 2000s.
The 87-unit Aquarius Club has had four sales so far in 2013, ranging from $400,000 to $760,000. In 2007, before the economic downturn and the closure of the Colony, the property also had four sales, which ranged from $529,000 to $880,000.
Greg Van Howe, an Aquarius Club board member, has been vocal about the effects of the Colony on the condominium.
In an email to the Longboat Observer, he wrote:
“ … there is no doubt our listings-to-sales conversion over the past three-plus years has been extremely low, and the few units that have sold in our building have netted much less than one would expect from a well constructed, beautifully maintained, excellently managed building such as ours that also has the best beach on LBK. There is much anecdotal evidence from Realtors and potential buyers that the Colony mess is the culprit. When you look at that property from our vantage point, it’s not hard to draw the same conclusion.”
Still, sales at the 37-year-old condominium don’t appear to lag behind other Key condominiums on the Gulf that were built around the same time.
The effect is also difficult to measure, in part, because the Colony closed in 2010 — one of the slowest years for Longboat Key real estate in recent history. Along with the Colony and the recession, Longboat Key has many aging properties and has dealt with the loss of the Holiday Inn and some businesses leaving the island.
“There’s no way to specifically say that any one of these things is a negative impact on value,” said Tom Aposporos, a Realtor, Longboat Key Revitalization Task Force member and former president of the Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce. “But it’s hard to argue that the combination of events (isn’t) affecting us in a negative way.”
The question mark
Bruce Myer, of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, has sold real estate on Longboat Key for 33 years.
“We’ve had a number of clients who have come through the Colony who have been owners,” he said.
Like many local Realtors, he often hears questions from buyers about what’s happening at the Colony. But the question is usually one of curiosity.
“If you’re right next to it, I can see how that might be a factor,” Myer said. “I’ve never had one person say, ‘I’m not going to buy on Longboat Key because the Colony looks like hell.’”
“It definitely is a topic of conversation everywhere,” said Cheryl Loeffler, a top-selling Realtor with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty. “People are optimistic that something wonderful or magnificent could come at the Colony … The overall issue is, even in a rising market, it interjects a certain level in the conversation about an unknown.”
“When you have a curiosity, that can discourage a buyer from making a purchase,” Aposporos said. “That does become a factor in Longboat’s future.”
Another unknown: How many guests would have stayed at the Colony over the past three years and eventually purchased Longboat Key property?
In addition to being a Realtor, Loeffler is a Longboat Key resident and a member of the task force. Like many Longboaters, she got her introduction to the island when she stayed at the Colony.
“It’s a part of our heritage on Longboat Key,” Loeffler said. “Most people started here going to the Key Club or the Colony. Now (Longboat) has to be more of a buying destination.”
Click here to view a sales sample graphic.
View Colony sales sample in a larger map