The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort unit owners have options available under town codes that will allow them to renovate the property into a tourism destination again, without losing more than half of the property’s 237 units.
The resort contains 237 tourism units on 18 acres. But, because the hotel and resort buildings were built before the town created its tourism resort commercial classification, which only allows for six tourism units per acre, 129 of the resort’s 237 units are considered grandfathered, or legally non-conforming.
According to Planning, Zoning and Building Director Monica Simpson, sections of the town code state the resort cannot lay dormant for more than a year or it will be considered abandoned.
If the property is not supporting a tourism use again by Aug. 15, approximately 129 grandfathered tourism units will disappear. (The resort officially closed Aug. 15, 2010.)
But the town is looking into several different options to help the Colony retain all of its units.
Town attorney David Persson says “there are lots of things in the works to get the property up and running again and figuring out a way to extend the one-year deadline.”
Persson points to a section of the town code that states a property owner can ask the Town Commission for a continuance of the one-year deadline if the property owner can show good cause that the property will be in operation once again.
And if that doesn’t work, Persson said the town and the unit owners have other options.
“There may be some changes that can be done to the code to allow for an extension and re-opening of the property,” Persson said.
Simpson stated in an Oct. 22 letter to Colony Association President Jay Yablon that, for zoning purposes, the Colony “is considered to be one unified development despite its form of ownership.”
Specifically, Simpson made it clear that there must be recreational amenities available to resort guests, such as the tennis courts in the middle of the property currently owned by longtime Colony owner Dr. Murray “Murf” Klauber, William Merrill and Carolyn Field. All three have undivided interest in those tennis courts.
But what if the unit owners cannot reach a deal to purchase the recreational property?
Persson said it’s still not a deal-breaker for the unit owners.
“It’s not a great scenario because you are adding more non-conformity to the property,” Persson said. “But one of the things the unit owners are exploring is the ability to do something legislatively with the code.”
Persson said there may be other ways to address the Colony’s issues, including asking for a code change to allow for non-conformities for open space.
“And, if there’s not a way, the unit owners have assembled a highly-skilled legal team to look at the town’s codes and see whether it’s possible to do so,” Persson said. “In that instance, the town would be looking for them (the Colony’s legal team) to tell us how they can make changes to the town’s Comprehensive Plan and land development regulations to make it work.”
Yablon said that Persson’s comments show that the town and the unit owners are working together to make sure the resort becomes vibrant once again.
“We and the town both recognize the challenges we face,” Yablon said. “Nonetheless, our discussions with the town have been very positive and the town has been very supportive of our efforts.”
International Content Liquidations Inc. is holding a liquidation sale beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday Dec. 9, at The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort, 1620 Gulf of Mexico Drive, to sell the entire contents of the resort’s former restaurants, bars, lounges, commercial kitchens, gourmet deli, spa and salons, commercial laundry, banquet center, offices, maintenance and more.
The sale will run for 14 days and sale hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.
For more information, contact Frank Long at 937-609-3403.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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