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Longboat Key Thursday, Apr. 1, 2010 7 years ago

Key Club surrenders


APRIL FOOLS — Call it: “Sunk by Simpson.”

In a statement released to The Longboat Observer Tuesday night, Loeb Partners Realty Inc., owners of the Longboat Key Club and Resort, announced it is abandoning its $400 million expansion plans and has reached agreements to sell its entire holdings on Longboat Key.

The buyers:

• The town of Longboat Key (i.e. taxpayers) — which will own and operate Key’s Club’s Islandside and Harbourside golf courses; the Islandside spa and fitness center; and the recently built Tennis Gardens.

• IPOC Won L.P., a newly formed limited partnership, which will own and operate the Inn on the Beach resort facilities. IPOC Won includes a group of L’Ambiance condominium residents; members of the Islandside Property Owners Coalition, including IPOC President Bob White; and former Longboat Key
Commissioner Al Green, aka newspaper pundit Dan Dowd.

• Longboat Yacht Club L.P., a group of slip owners at Key Club’s marina. Their purchase also includes the club’s Portofino restaurant.

The purchase prices were undisclosed.

The Key Club’s sudden abandonment of its expansion plans occurred Friday afternoon after the club’s attorneys met with Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Director Monica Simpson.

“Let’s just say when it became apparent, after talking to Monica for several hours, how much more time it was going to take and what the town’s position was going to be going forward, Mr. (Joe) Lesser (chairman and CEO of Loeb Partners) and Michael Brody (Loeb’s president), said, ‘No mas,” a Key Club spokesman said.

At that point, the spokesman said, Welly began executing a plan Loeb code-named “Abandon Ship” — selling the club.

The spokesman said Loeb had always held selling its holdings as a possibility. As a result, even while it was going through hearings last month with the Longboat Key Town Commission, Loeb representatives began confidential sale discussions with Longboat Key Town Manager Bruce St. Denis, an insider who is a member of IPOC, and Key Club critic and pundit Green.

“Now you know why Mr. Green allegedly stopped writing for the other newspaper,” the Key Club spokesman said. “He was in the negotiations to help the town buy the golf courses and to be a buyer himself.

“Hasn’t that always been his dream?” the spokesman added, referring to Green’s attempt in the early 1990s to have the town buy the Key Club from Arvida Corp. “Now he has it.”

In addition to being a member of the Inn on the Beach ownership group, with a stake reported to be 0.5%, Green also will serve as chairman of an advisory board that will oversee the management of tee times and maintenance of the golf courses.

“We wish him well,” the club’s spokesman said, “especially when he hears from residents and club members complaining that the greens are too slow, too fast, too wet, too dry … you name it, they squawk about it. Good luck with that.”

Throughout Saturday and Sunday, sale negotiations continued almost around the clock in two conference rooms at Inn on the Beach and at L’Ambiance.

Key sticking points in the talks included whether the town should buy the Key Club’s new Tennis Gardens facility — particularly in light of the town’s recent completion of its new public tennis center facility.

The Key Club spokesman said after St. Denis conferred with tennis-center organizers, town officials concluded the combined tennis facilities would be a positive in the town’s efforts to become the top-ranked public tennis facility by the U.S. Tennis Association.

Closing on the sale of the Key Club facilities isn’t expected to occur until the end of April. The Longboat Key Town Commission must first approve the sale in a special commission meeting that will be scheduled for Monday, April 19.

The club spokesman said the town also is in discussion with advisers on the issuance of revenue bonds to pay for the town’s purchase. The spokesman said he didn’t know how much the bond issue will be or how much more the bond issue would add to taxpayers’ property taxes.

Asked the fate of Welly and the Key Club’s management staff, the club spokesman said Welly has given two weeks’ notice and that he talked over the weekend about writing a thriller based on a developer’s dealings with a local zoning board or applying for the directorship of Sarasota’s Bobby Jones public golf course.

New owners

Three prominent members of the new management of the Key Club’s golf courses and owners of Inn on the Beach:

Bruce St. Denis

Longboat Key town manager
St. Denis will add management of the Key Club’s 45 holes of golf, the pro shops, spa and fitness center and Moorings marina to his responsibilities. His annual salary will be increased by $100,000.

Al Green (aka Dan Dowd)
Pundit, ex-town commissioner
Green, who writes under the nom de plume of Dan Dowd for an obscure publication, will be a 0.5% owner of the group operating Inn on the Beach and has been appointed chair of an advisory board that will oversee tee times for the town-owned golf courses.

Bob White
President, IPOC
White, who reportedly has a 1% ownership stake in the Inn on the Beach group, will serve as vice president of public relations, VP of traffic flow and head a committee monitoring residents’ views. 

For more on this story, click here.


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