For the second time in 13 months, the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort Association Board stood before the Longboat Key Town Commission with a hand-picked developer, describing how it was making progress and working to transform a resort that was once the Key’s premier destination spot.
And, for the second time in 13 months, commissioners told the Association and its developer they won’t be impressed until a groundbreaking ceremony is held at 1620 Gulf of Mexico Drive.
An Association Owners’ Advisory Committee picked Stamford, Conn.-based JHM Financial Group LLC last week as its top developer choice to teardown and rebuild the shuttered resort at 1620 Gulf of Mexico Drive.
On Tuesday, May 7, three out of five Association board member seats that were up for re-election stayed in the hands of incumbents. The election results mean that plans to continue on with JHM Financial Group will remain.
When asked about the election of the new board (see sidebar), Colony Beach and Tennis Resort Association President Jay Yablon said, “The board still consists of individuals who have expressed commitment to continue forward on our current path.”
John McClutchy Jr., president of JHM Financial Group, made a presentation at the Colony’s annual owners meeting Monday, May 6 and later that day to the Town Commission.
McClutchy has told unit owners he needs three things to strike a deal for a new resort: a signed development agreement, a settlement agreement among all affected parties and an agreement and understanding with Colony unit owner Andy Adams, who owns more than 50 units at the resort.
JHM, according to a proposal outlined to unit owners Monday, will develop a four-star resort and provide 100% of the funding for a global legal settlement. JHM has already been granted authority to work toward a settlement among all parties (see below).
“We specialize in distressed real estate and work with these issues all the time, including bank hearings and broken condo projects,” McClutchy said. “I’m confident we will get cooperation among the owners and get that 75% majority vote needed to rebuild the resort.”
Commissioners, though, weren’t impressed with the speech at their Monday night meeting.
“We’ve been down this path before with another developer who was also touted as the greatest thing since sliced bread,” said Commissioner Jack Duncan. “My patience has run out until I see a 75% majority vote.”
Said Commissioner Lynn Larson: “I won’t be impressed until I see a building permit.”
Yablon told commissioners he understood their hesitation.
“I hope not to speak to this commission again until I can announce a 75% majority vote,” said Yablon, who explained JHM is already holding meetings with Adams and longtime Colony owner Dr. Murray “Murf” Klauber. “The goal now is to get our membership to approve this.”
Yablon said owners spent a large amount of time at their meeting Tuesday discussing what needs to be done to get a 75% majority vote to enter into a development agreement with JHM.
Yablon couldn’t pinpoint a vote date for commissioners, but suggested it could be held this summer.
Commissioner Phill Younger didn’t buy it.
“How many times have we heard this before?” Younger said. “We need a date.”
Longboat Key Revitalization Task Force representative Tom Aposporos suggested the town should consider taking away the approximately 134 nonconforming tourism units at the Colony if no progress is made by the Dec. 31 tourism extension deadline. He suggested the town ask residents through a referendum to put the extra units in the town’s already existing pool of 250 tourism units.
Commissioners agreed to discuss that suggestion, as well as the option of condemning the property, at its May 20 workshop.
Younger also made a motion to shorten the extension deadline from Dec. 31 to Oct. 1, citing the Association’s “lack of commitment to get anything done.”
Commissioners debated the motion, but Younger rescinded it after the majority of the commission thought the move too drastic as settlement negotiations are under way.
“We’re getting too emotional,” said Mayor Jim Brown.
Attorneys for all Colony parties urged the commission to have a little more patience.
“We’re in the final stages here,” said Association attorney Jeffery Warren. “We’re working on settling because we all know the sand in the hourglass is running out.”
On Tuesday, longtime Colony General Manager Katie Klauber Moulton also said settlement discussions are progressing, citing a camaraderie and willingness to work through differences at this year’s annual meeting that’s been lacking for years.
Klauber also urged the commission to be patient Monday night.
“We had a group come in and try to destroy the Colony and they succeeded,” Klauber said. “But, at this moment, we may have the right group and the willingness to do something here. I love Longboat Key and the Colony and we have to make this happen.”
A Colony Beach & Tennis Resort Association election held Tuesday, May 7, kept most of the board intact for another year. The new board consists of two new board members, Paula Slattery and Brenda Joyce. The board now consists of:
• Jay Yablon
• Bruce Pinsky
• Ruth Kreindler
• Blake Fleetwood
• Barry Spiegel
• Bob Erazmus
• Stu Ross
• Paula Slattery*
• Brenda Joyce*
*Slattery and Joyce replace outgoing board members Herb Lipton and Shelly Rabin.