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Longboat Key Wednesday, May 30, 2018 2 years ago

Longboat prepares to demolish Colony

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The town of Longboat Key is preparing documents to alert Colony Beach & Tennis Resort unit owners of an intention to demolish the former retreat on, or after, June 15
by: Bret Hauff Staff Writer

Longboat Key officials are preparing to demolish most of the buildings at the site of the former Colony Beach & Tennis Resort almost a decade after the once iconic retreat closed its doors.

Citing imminent danger to public health, safety and welfare, Planning, Zoning and Building Director Allen Parsons said in an email to Town Manager Tom Harmer that the town plans to hire contractors to demolish many of the buildings at the site of the former Colony on, or after, June 15. The exact number of buildings was not available.

This process began in October when the town building official at the time issued a report finding the structures at the site of the former Colony unsafe and unfit. Then, on April 25, the town building official and fire marshal inspected the site to determine whether the buildings pose an imminent threat to public health, safety and welfare.

“The town building official and fire marshal have expressed concern relating to the condition of the structures on the site and the ability of the structures to withstand another hurricane season,” Parsons wrote in his email to Harmer.

Hurricane season begins on Saturday, June 1. Forecasters predict average to above average activity, with 10-16 named storms.

In a response to the town, via email, unit owner Blake Fleetwood wrote: "There has been no substantial damage from hurricanes at the Colony in 70 years. The Colony has a very wide beach and a hundred other properties in LBK will suffer damage before the Colony."

The order being drafted by the town gives unit owners a 10-day period in which they may appeal the town’s decision to demolish the structures. Fleetwood went on to say the process likely would be tied up for months.

"I am sure you are well aware that our engineers, and contractors and appraisers have been all over the property and have told us that many of the buildings are perfectly repairable and not unsafe and not a danger,'' he wrote. "Owners who do not object to the demolition  would not have many rights but those who do, and have plans to repair, should have the opportunity to do so."

Town Commissioners approved development of the site in March, giving Orlando-based development firm Unicorp National Developments authority to construct a 166-room, 78-condominium St. Regis Hotel at the site.

Unicorp President Chuck Whittall said he's pleased with the town decision to demolish the structures at the site of the former Colony and plans to bid for a town contract to destroy the buildings. 

"There’s a few people trying to hold on to ruins, which doesn't make sense." Whittall said. "It's time for progress — the wheels of progress are moving." 

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available. 

I’m a Longboat Key Staff Reporter. I write stories about how decisions and events affect the island, its leaders and its citizens. I received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Emerson College, where I wrote for The Boston Globe. Reach me at 941-366-3468 ext. 333.

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