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Longboat Key Monday, Jun. 25, 2018 2 years ago

Unicorp to demolish the Colony at no cost to Longboat

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Orlando-based Unicorp National Developments has offered to demolish the buildings at the former site of the Colony at no cost to the town in preparation of constructing a St. Regis Hotel and Residences at the site.
by: Bret Hauff Staff Writer

Unicorp National Developments Inc. has offered, and been awarded, a contract to demolish the former Colony Beach & Tennis Resort at no cost to the town.

The Orlando-based development company will begin demolition of the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort within 15 days, according to a June 22 bid tabulation of offers provided to the Longboat Observer.

“Ultimately, the property was going to be charged with that expense, and it’s always been part of my plan to demo the property,” Unicorp National Developments President Chuck Whittall said.

Whittall said he plans to use heavy equipment to demolish buildings at the site of the former Colony, which could take between four to six months to complete.

Five contractors, including Unicorp, submitted bids. Other than Unicorp’s bid to do the work for free, the bids to demolish the property ranged between about $900,000 to more than $1.77 million.

Unicorp has plans to begin demolishing the buildings at the site of the former Colony within two to three weeks of being awarded the contract to raze the 25 of the 26 structures, including the six-story midrise tower, Whittall said. The developer owns one of the three units in the building that has yet to be condemned by the town.

The other two units at the Beach Building are owned by Ruth Kreindler, who has sought town approval to make repairs to the building in effort to keep it from being demolished.

“The building is repairable and as such does not qualify for demolition,” attorney Dan Lobeck, who represents Kreindler, wrote in a letter to the town June 15.

Whittall said he has plans to demolish the Beach Building.

“I’m under contract with Kreindler. She gave me those rights [to the building] by signing the agreement that we signed,” Whittall said.

This offer to demolish the buildings at the site of the former Colony at no cost to the town circumvents a process by which the town would have to pay for demolition of the site. That cost to the town would then be set as a lien on the property.

In the event the town did have to pay for demolishing the site, it would have access to a $1.1 million bond purchased by Unicorp National Developments as a gesture of good faith to keep the Colony property up to town codes.

If Unicorp failed to do that, the bond would be used to rectify the problems, even if that meant demolishing the buildings.

The association and, by extension, the developer, were required by a resolution passed in 2016 to:

  • Maintain vermin- and pest-control programs;
  • Secure and maintain any buildings, structures, equipment and property in compliance with local, state and federal codes;
  • Observe and comply with orders issued by the town’s building official enforcing applicable building code and safety standards to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the public and neighbors;
  • Provide landscaping and irrigation for portions of the property visible to the public and neighbors;
  • Keep “no trespassing” signs on the property; and
  • Manage the existing fence around the perimeter of the property until the buildings are demolished or issued a certificate of occupancy.

A letter sent by the town in May accused the developer and Colony Beach & Tennis Club Association of failing to do so.

Then, on May 31, the town issued an emergency demolition order condemning 25 of the 26 buildings as an imminent danger to public health, safety and welfare in the coming hurricane season.

The town’s worry is that parts of the buildings, which have not been repaired since the Colony closed in 2010, will become projectiles in a strong wind event.

Unicorp National Developments plans to build a 166-room and 78-condominium St. Regis Resort and Residences at the site of the former Colony, a project the developer hopes to complete by 2021.

Until construction would begin, the property would be graded and sodded to prevent runoff and soil erosion. 

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.

See All Articles by Bret

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