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Opinion
Longboat Key Wednesday, Jun. 15, 2016 3 years ago

Progress at the Colony

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Don’t get your hopes up too much. Nevertheless, come July 14 one of the combatants in the Colony soap opera is expected to be bought out — for $15 million to $25 million.
by: Matt Walsh Editor & CEO

To be sure, granting The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort Association and Unicorp National Development any type of extension to continue doing what always appears to be nothing at the shuttered resort is a keen source of frustration.

Not just for Longboat Key town commissioners, but for all Longboat Key residents, especially the Colony’s next-door neighbors at the Tencon and Aquarius condominiums. It’s almost to the point that everyone not physically or financially connected to the Colony is so over it — except that the dilapidated resort remains an unavoidable eyesore as you drive along Gulf of Mexico Drive.

But good for the town commissioners. Rather than give in to Unicorp’s request to extend until February 2018(!) a deadline to begin redevelopment — or lose the Colony’s zoning designation — Longboat commissioners and Unicorp agreed on Jan. 9, 2017, as Unicorp’s deadline to begin redevelopment. 

Of course, no one believes that. 

After all, the Colony Wars have been going on for a decade. What’s the rush?

Pardon the cynicism. 

In fact, there actually may be a definitive sign of progress come July 14. That’s the drop-dead deadline for Unicorp to close on the purchase of the infamous 2.3 acres and all of former Colony owner Murf Klauber’s properties from none other than Colony Lender. 

Colony Lender, for those who haven’t followed this dirty soap opera, is the two-man entity of former Cedars Tennis & Fitness Club owner Randy Langley and part-time Longboat Key resident, lawyer David Siegal. 

They’re the pair who collaborated to purchase from Bank of America in 2010 $10 million worth of Klauber debt. That entitled them to ownership of 2.3 crucial acres of common area in the middle of the 18-acre property, plus Klauber’s penthouse living unit and office; the Colony restaurant and swimming pool; locker rooms; meeting rooms; delicatessen; and the Le Tennique clothing store. They also say one of the other assets in this pending sale is title to 60 years remaining on a recreational lease that Klauber owned, giving his resort guests access to the Colony’s tennis courts.

But, of course, that is still tangled in the legal spaghetti ball in the courts.

If you can remember back that far, when Langley and Siegal acquired Klauber’s loan, the word on the street was they paid the bank $3 million to $4.5 million. Neither Langley nor Siegal ever confirmed the amount. 

And at the time, when they became involved in what was then already a three-year battle between Klauber and the Colony Association unit owners, they portrayed themselves as would-be white knights. They said they had a plan.

In March 2010, Siegal told the Longboat Observer: “If everyone is reasonable, everyone can benefit.”

In that same story, the two declined to reveal their rescue plan, but Langley said it was structured “down to the nail.” He also said in that interview: “We don’t want to roll over anybody. That’s destructive. We don’t want that for anyone.”

And there was this line in that story: “But Langley is also pragmatic: ‘I’m not a Joan of Arc. I expect to make a profit.’”

When we asked Chuck Whittall, president of Unicorp, what he was paying Colony Lender to take it out of this never-ending dispute Tuesday, he confirmed the price was between $15 million and $25 million.

Two combatants out (Klauber, Colony Lender), many more still to go. Hope springs eternal.

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