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Longboat Key Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010 7 years ago

Colony association president shares plans

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

Colony Beach & Tennis Resort Association President Jay Yablon believes the majority of the resort’s 232 unit owners want to see the aging property rejuvenated in a way that preserves many of the qualities 41-year resort owner Dr. Murray “Murf” Klauber created.

“The bottom line is, all of the unit owners have to form a consensus from here on out,” Yablon told The Longboat Observer. “From what I have picked up on through my position as president, there is fairly widespread agreement among existing owners that they like the basic look and feel of the Colony they have been familiar with for years.”

Yablon says there is a strong consensus among unit owners, whether the renovation plan involves the existing complex or tearing it down and starting new, for a historic renovation of the resort.

“When you start to deviate from that vision and add in high-rises, for example, and include a resort chain name, the more prone you are to start losing people from that consensus,” Yablon said.

The next step is for the association and all Colony unit owners to decide what to do with the resort.

Yablon, a patent attorney from New York, says that the association has hired Sarasota-based Karins Engineering to inspect all of the buildings and 232 units owned by the unit owners.

“If we can refurbish the units at a reasonable cost and give them another 40 years of life, then we are preserving the historic nature of the resort and updating the interiors to 2010 levels,” Yablon said.

But the unit owners, Yablon said, might agree that a refurbishment will cost too much and that a complete teardown and rebuild of the property is needed and more cost-efficient in the long run.

But Yablon makes it clear the unit owners together will decide what’s next for the property and it will not be a Board of Directors decision.

“The unit owners will approve what we do going forward,” said Yablon, who is unsure what percentage of the unit owners will be needed to approve a renovation plan.

And although Yablon and the association are unwilling to include Klauber in their plans for the renovation, Yablon compliments the former owner. In an e-mail sent to unit owners Aug. 9, Yablon expressed the association’s hope that Klauber will sell them the three acres he owns (of the Colony’s 18 total acres) for a fair price.

“I would hope that as we move forward, and as Murf realizes the owners want to bring back a lot of what the Colony was about, that he would decide it’s in his best interest and it’s an affirmation of the good things he achieved to help us move forward in that direction, or at the very least not to obstruct it,” Yablon said.

When asked if he has a message for Klauber, Yablon said: “The message I want to get out is no one is saying the Colony was a terrible solution. We want to emulate many of the things that were done the past 41 years.”

Yablon, who has been coming to the Colony since the mid-’70s and honeymooned there, said the unit owners have the best interest of the property at heart.

“We are on a learning curve and we are not in the hotel business,” Yablon said. “But, we are conferring with professionals and seeking advice from people who know the condo-hotel business well. We will put out a request for proposals and get something the owners want. “

But Yablon maintains the association refuses to rush into a decision.

As he stated in the Aug. 9 e-mail to unit owners, Yablon insists the association will try and get the units into a decent, livable condition, if possible, in time for the upcoming season.

“Right now we are more concentrated on completing and working through our way of transfer and control of the property,” said Yablon, who has hired a security company and is working to restore utilities to buildings.

But the future of the Colony, Yablon said, rests solely on the opinion of Karins Engineering — and any other group the association might hire for second opinions.

Yablon said the association has two major questions for Karins Engineering:

• What would it take and what would be the cost of bringing the units up to a level to allow owners to comfortably and safely inhabit those units this coming season?

• Can the existing structures undergo a rehabilitation, and, if so, at what cost?

“We have heard many opinions about whether the units can or can’t be refurbished,” Yablon said. “But, very often, the giver of the opinion has had a particular interest based on the answer to that question (provided in a courtroom). I feel it’s vital at this time to simply get a factual answer to the question. Can the units be rehabilitated, and, if so, at what cost, without any spin or agendas behind the answer. It’s the first critical piece of information we need to start making rational decisions.”

The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort closed its resort and all on-site businesses Sunday, Aug. 15, after U.S. Bankruptcy Judge K. Rodney May ruled to convert the Colony’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization to a Chapter 7 liquidation Monday, Aug. 9.

The ruling marked the end of the first condominium-hotel rental partnership agreement formed in the state of Florida, which was created in 1972 by then-Colony owner and Chairman Dr. Murray “Murf” Klauber.

The judge also ruled to give complete control of the units to the 232 unit owners.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].

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