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Longboat Key Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019 3 weeks ago

Both sides file for judgments in Colony case

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Three unit owners agree to deal with Unicorp, leaving Breakpointe LLC to push ahead with case aimed at public auction.
by: Eric Garwood Managing Editor

An April trial to determine how the property of the former Colony Beach & Tennis Resort will be sold remains on track, though parallel requests from both sides of the legal proceeding seek to alter those plans.

Unit owner Andy Adams and his Breakpointe LLC, which controls 75 of the former resort’s units, filed a motion in October for Circuit Judge Hunter Carroll to enter a summary judgment seeking a special magistrate to sell the property at a public auction, with minimum bids set by the court. Breakpointe LLC attorney Anthony Abate said in court last week that such a sale could be set into motion by early January and result in a better financial outcome for unit owners.

Attorneys for Unicorp Colony Units LLC have also filed a request for a summary judgment, theirs seeking an order that the condominium parcel should be sold as a whole and to appoint a special magistrate to evaluate a private sale and make a recommendation to the court on whether a private sale could be achieved or whether a public auction would generate more value for owners.

Carroll indicated he has taken both requests under advisement.

Adams is now alone in his opposition to the plans proposed by Unicorp National Developments CEO Chuck Whittall to ultimately build the St. Regis Hotel and Residences, with 166 rooms and 78 condominiums. In court last week, agreements between Unicorp and unit owners Yeno Mon Inc., New Colony LLC and Sheldon and Carol Rabin, were announced.

“I think we’re getting there,” Whittall said. “I think the judge is a smart judge, and he’s going to say it’s everybody against one. And the one is just because he wants more money.”

Whittall said there are 30-40 unit owners interested not in a cash settlement but rather access to the new resort. That sort of deal is only possible if Whittall ends up in control.

Breakpointe LLC attorney Brett Henson said he had no comment on the effect of the new agreements with Unicorp.

Barring any changes, the April trial is intended to settle how the Colony Association is to be dissolved. Carroll issued a ruling last summer paving the way to its dissolution but only after all financial obligations are met. The so-called phase two involves weighing the details and processes for the fairest method to address:

  •  The disposition of 15 of the Colony’s 18 acres (Whittall already owns the three acres that comprise the recreational land);
  • Accusations Adams and Breakpointe have leveled against Unicorp and the condo association board of improper dealings and misrepresentations;
  • A plan to dispose of the association’s assets and liabilities;
  • What each unit owner will receive, either money, land, access to the St. Regis or other combinations;
  • Whether further assessments are necessary; and
  • Any liens or mortgages.

Whittall has offered $44 million in his development agreement, which Breakpointe attorneys questioned as low and said a public auction could perhaps deliver a higher price but also result in multiple owners of multiple parcels. “It has the benefits of being quick, of being expeditious,” Abate said. “Our position is, ‘Why can’t we put this property up for public sale, public bid, get it sold in 45 days and be done with it?’ So we filed that motion.”

Also at issue are the 3 acres of recreational land that Whittall purchased at auction in 2018 from Colony Lender LLC, which owned 95%, and Adams, who owned 5%. Abate referenced this sale as evidence that such a public auction can be completed without delays. Separate from the condo acreage, these plots once held public-access amenities, such as the Colony restaurant, tennis courts, a swimming pool and the famous Monkey Bar.

In a deposition, Planning, Zoning and Building Director Allen Parsons said, “From the town’s perspective, the entire 17-plus acre site is a single site for zoning purposes.” The town also said in court documents that it is “unlikely” to approve a split of the condo property and the recreational property.

In her deposition, Town Attorney Maggie Mooney conceded that the zoning and entitlement implications of a partition could extend uncertainty for the Colony “for an extensive time period” that could take years to settle.

 

 

 

 

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