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Longboat Key Friday, Sep. 6, 2019 1 week ago

Order to terminate Colony condo association filed

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Trial dates are set for April 2020, where the court will address other issues in the suit.
by: Sten Spinella Staff Writer

Court records show Sarasota County Circuit Judge Hunter Carroll has issued a written judicial order “finding entitlement to termination” in the former Colony Beach & Tennis Resort lawsuit.

Unicorp, the plaintiff in the suit, filed to dissolve the Colony’s condo association in the beginning of 2018 as a means of moving forward with a planned hotel and condominium project at 1620 Gulf of Mexico Drive. The company been granted its wish.

“This is the actual entered order from the judge that was argued in court Thursday,” Unicorp CEO Chuck Whittall said of the order. “This gives us the right to terminate. The next course of action is the actual termination, which will happen in April of next year.”

The question now is how, exactly, will the judge oversee the result of the association termination? Unicorp is pushing for a direct sale, which would allow it to immediately buy the remaining 81 units of the 244 total. Unicorp or its affiliates directly own 45. Aligned with Unicorp are 118 other owners. 

Also possible is a property auction or a partitioned sale. 

“This case is another chapter in the Colony saga,” the order reads. “Because the various buildings that comprised this condominium hotel have been destroyed and are not able to be repaired, reconstructed, or rebuilt within a reasonable amount of time, the Court finds an entitlement to termination under section 718.118, Florida Statutes.”

Alan Tannenbaum, an attorney representing unit owners in a countersuit against the condo association for letting the property fall into disrepair, said in July that to his knowledge, there’s never been a judicial termination of this kind in Florida. Whittall said the same.

“The judge has ruled for the first time in the history of the state of Florida that we have the right to terminate the condo,” he said. “Essentially, it should no longer act as a condo, it needs to go away.”

The court document goes on to say that “Further judicial labor is necessary…to address the Phase 2 equitable remedy issues.” This includes “the disposition of the real property, addressing the unclean hands claims, a plan for the disposition of the Association’s assets and liabilities, addressing what each unit owner will receive” and “addressing matters involving any existing liens/mortgages”.

Any matter not pertaining specifically to the question of terminating the association was referred to in the document as a “Phase 2 issue.” The “unclean hands” allegations come from defendants, specifically unit owners Breakpointe LLC and Yeno Mon Inc. of “actions, omissions, misrepresentations, conspiracies, and aiding and abetting activities and the like by Unicorp or the Association or both causing the destruction of the Colony or otherwise improperly advance their agenda,” the order reads.

In essence, the court is at last nearing a final decision on the fate of the former Colony property. The court’s decision to eventually terminate the association is a win for Whittall and Unicorp. He said he wasn’t surprised by the outcome in this portion of the suit.

“We're just looking forward to finally getting to trial, being able to resolve this 11-year dispute and bringing back something great on the property once it's resolved,” Whittall said.

Sten Spinella is a Town Hall Reporter for the Longboat Observer. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Connecticut and his master's degree from the University of Missouri. 

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