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Longboat Key Monday, Mar. 30, 2020 9 months ago

COVID-19 concerns prompt delay in Colony trial

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Five-day proceeding was expected to begin April 6, now reset for May 11.
by: Eric Garwood Managing Editor

The civil trial that could determine the path forward for the former Colony Beach & Tennis Resort property has been delayed to mid-May because of concerns related to COVID-19.

The case, filed in January 2018, was originally to go to trial April 6, with a pre-trial docket sounding planned for March 27. The new dates are: April 9 for the docket sounding and May 11 for the start of the planned five-day trial. All proceedings are scheduled in Courtroom 6A of the Judge Lynn Silvertooth Justice Center in Sarasota, before Circuit Judge Hunter W. Carroll.

The docket sounding will be conducted via telephone conference.

Unicorp National Developments Inc., the prospective redeveloper of the property, has proposed and gained town permission to build a 166-room luxury hotel with 78 adjoining luxury condominiums under the St. Regis brand banner. CEO Chuck Whittall is pursuing a ruling that would lead to a private sale of the property. Once in control of the property, Whittall can pursue clearances from the town to begin construction.

Andy Adams, the owner of 74 of 244 units and now the sole opponent to the Unicorp development plan, is pushing for a public auction and a possible partitioning of the propery.

Carroll issued a ruling last summer paving the way to the condo association’s dissolution but only after all financial obligations are met. The so-called phase two trial involves weighing:

  • The disposition of 15 of the Colony’s 18 acres (Whittall already owns the three acres that comprise the former resort’s recreational land);
  • Accusations Adams 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 amenities or units or other combinations;
  • Whether further assessments are necessary; and
  • Any liens or mortgages.

Whittall has offered $44 million in his development agreement, which attorneys representing Adams and his Breakpointe LLC questioned as low. They have claimed in pre-trial court sessions a public auction could perhaps deliver a higher price for owners.

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