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Longboat Key Wednesday, Mar. 6, 2013 4 years ago

Colony parties talk without lawyers

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort Association and longtime Colony owner Dr. Murray “Murf” Klauber are in settlement talks again.

But here’s what’s different about the latest round:

For the first time in seven years, attorneys aren’t actively involved.

The Association and unit owners wrapped up three days of closed meetings Wednesday, Feb. 27, at Temple Beth Israel.

An Association press release called “the most significant result to emerge from the meetings” last week the “direct dialogue between leaders of the Association and the Klauber family to resolve all of the legal disputes that have been ongoing since 2006.”

Association Board President Jay Yablon announced that Klauber and his daughter, longtime Colony Beach & Tennis Resort General Manager Katie Klauber Moulton, participated in the meetings and agreed to work actively to reach a settlement before the meetings began.

Klauber attended all three days of meetings, reviewed proposals from developers and acknowledged reasonable progress in a prepared statement.

“The Association’s meeting was promising, and I was happy to see the unit owners who attended engage in productive debate and discussions,” Klauber said. “The board brought some qualified professionals to the table, and the attendees had a chance to openly and honestly express their opinions of the various options presented. Afterward we had some honest and candid discussions between us and a few of the board members. Though there remains a great deal of pain for all that has happened these last many years, I think now is the time to align our business interests and get this done. To all my dear friends on Longboat Key, we will make this happen, and I intend to be there with all of you to help cut the ribbon at the grand re-opening.”

Yablon is pleased with the progress made last week. Over the last few months, signs that the relationship between Klauber and the Association could be thawing showed in court proceedings, when the Association agreed with Klauber in recent Tampa bankruptcy corporation filings.

One of the key stakeholders, Colony Lender LLC, is actively pursing a foreclosure on three Klauber-owned companies, which prompted Klauber to file for bankruptcy in Tampa. The companies represent collateral on a $13 million debt owed to Colony Lender principals David Siegal and Randy Langley.

“We are finally at the point where everybody has decided to leave their lawyers at home and talk directly with one another to try to resolve these issues,” Yablon said in a press release. “We have found that, at this point in time, there is much more that unites our interests than divides them. We are now collaborating on strategies not only to settle our own bilateral disputes but to press the other key stakeholders toward resolution, as well, so that we can soon return to the heavens the star that was once the Colony.”

Moulton disclosed she agrees having a conference between members of the Association and her group would be valuable at this time.

“There is a time for everything, and now is the time to end the years of dispute and work collaboratively to find a swift resolution to the issues that have plagued our precious Colony for far too long,” said Moulton, in the release. “We are delighted to see the board is open to finding a cooperative route to resolving the disputes. Good and productive dialogue is now under way, and we will not stop until we have succeeded in ending this long nightmare.”

Yablon, meanwhile, also shed some light on which way unit owners are leaning. Asked Friday, March 1 whether owners were leaning toward a renovation of the existing units or a teardown and rebuild during last week’s meetings, he said, “A straw poll of owners was taken and, aside from the large block of votes that are controlled by Andy Adams (approximately 50 votes), the overwhelming sentiment from the sampling of owners at the meeting was in favor of a new construction project with an outside developer maintaining only the existing beachfront units.” Yablon said his board and unit owners primarily discussed the redevelopment of the Colony and that a decision should be made by early summer.

“In the next several weeks leading up to the Association’s annual meeting May 6 and 7, the unit owners will be taking an advisory vote to help the board determine whether to pursue a rehabilitation of all the existing units or a project that is mostly new construction with the exception of the dozen or so beach units closest to the Gulf of Mexico,” he stated in his press release.


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