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Longboat Key Wednesday, May 4, 2016 4 years ago

Welfonder seeks Colony plan with Fairmont Hotels

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The Town Commission will consider extending the grandfathered tourism units for the Colony Beach & Tennis Club.
by: Kevin McQuaid Commercial Real Estate Editor

A new plan has emerged from a developer interested in redeveloping the former derelict Colony Beach & Tennis Resort property. 

Although Orlando-based Unicorp National Development and the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort Association appear now to be working in tandem to redevelop the 18-acre Longboat Key property, after years of fractious lawsuits and entanglements, a second proposal continues to swirl around the former tennis-themed resort.

Longboat Key resident Manfred Welfonder’s MW Corp. and Lutgert Cos., of Naples, have received a nonbinding “expression of interest” in operating a proposed 400-room luxury hotel at the Colony from Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, a Toronto-based company whose flag graces hotels from San Francisco to London.

“Fairmont has allowed us to use their name, and they support our project as a potential future operator of our hotel,” says Welfonder. “They are very much engaged with our project.”

Unicorp, meanwhile, has hopes of landing The Four Seasons to a redeveloped Colony.

The Orlando-based developer owns key Colony property, including a 95% stake in a 2.3-acre recreational property at the center of the resort, and entered into an agreement in March to work with the association.

Although past developers have worked with the association on plans for a future resort, the agreement with Unicorp is key because it includes a global settlement of most litigation surrounding the property.

“We’ve met with Fairmont, and the reality is any interested flag would go to whoever has the property,” Unicorp CEO Chuck Whittall says. “We’ve had active and serious discussions with Fairmont, St. Regis and Four Seasons. We have a deal with the homeowners’ association, but at this stage, it’s hard to sign an agreement with a hotel flag until more things are done. But we have a good working relationship with the association now, and I think we’re about two weeks away from finalizing a legal agreement with them.”

In other Colony news, owners filed a new application to extend the property’s grandfathered tourism units Monday.

Because the Colony’s 237 units were built on 18 acres before the town created its tourism resort commercial classification that allows for just six units per acre, 129 of the resort’s 237 units are considered grandfathered. If that nonconforming use disappears, only 108 units would be permitted.

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