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Longboat Key Wednesday, Apr. 24, 2013 2 years ago

Fleetwood: voice for Colony rehab model

by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor

Last week, the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort Association Board voted 6-3 in favor of pursuing a rebuild of the shuttered resort.

Blake Fleetwood was one of the three opposing votes, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone following the great debate about the future of the Colony.

He’s become an outspoken advocate for a rehabilitation of the property over the past year. In an April 3 op-ed titled, “The terminators attack the Colony” (“terminators” referred to plans that would require owners to sign away their deeds and terminate the condominium association), he criticized developer-termination plans as “vague and unspecific on key deal points.”

So, just who is this board member?

If you read commission emails or letters and op-eds in local newspapers, you’ll know this part of his résumé:
Blake Fleetwood was formerly on the staff of The New York Times and has written for The New York Times magazine, New York magazine, The New York Daily News, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the Village Voice, Atlantic and the Washington Monthly “on a number of issues,” his email signature states.

Fleetwood, 69, lives in Manhattan and owns Cook Travel.

He first visited the Colony in the early 1990s with his wife and three sons because they’d “heard a lot about it as one of the best resorts in the world,” although he “frankly was appalled” about the possibility of buying property in Florida.

“But Longboat Key won me over, and the tennis won me over, and the beaches won me over,” Fleetwood said.

Property records show he purchased his unit for $205,000 in February 2005.

“At the time, I knew there were some problems, but I never imagined they would be of this magnitude,” he said.

Fleetwood said he was “upset but a little heartened” when the Colony closed in August 2010. He didn’t think it would be closed for long and thought the Association would be in control of the property.

He ran for the Association board last April, thinking his development experience would come in handy. (He’s previously renovated brownstones in New York City.)

After his election, he vehemently opposed a rebuild plan proposed by the Broomfield, Colo.,-based Club Holdings Ventures, saying it would have cost him $300,000 to keep the deed to his unit.

Fleetwood contends that his unit, along with the majority of units, are in the same shape they were in the day the resort closed. In fact, he spent the night in his unit in 2011, but a town official notified him he wasn’t allowed to do so because there was no water in the unit.

Board terms are two years long, so Fleetwood isn’t up for re-election next month.

Fleetwood knows he isn’t popular among a majority of the board’s members right now.

“They feel that I’m sabotaging their redevelopment plans,” he said. “I’m telling them that they’re sabotaging their redevelopment plan.”

“They feel that I’m sabotaging their redevelopment plans. I’m telling them that they’re sabotaging their redevelopment plan.”
— Blake Fleetwood


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