It’s going to take more than a failed legal dispute, a bankruptcy filing and a mortgage foreclosure to bring down Dr. Murray “Murf” Klauber and Katie Moulton.
In one year’s time, the father-daughter duo, who owns and operates The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort, has lost a legal dispute against the resort’s association unit owners, filed for bankruptcy, had tax warrants filed against the property and shuttered its resort.
But, on Dec. 18, the Colony reopened 100 rooms at its resort.
Klauber, the Colony’s chairman and owner, paid a $175,000 loan to the partnership to re-open the facility, in part, because he said he can’t stand to see the place empty from the top floor of the hotel, where he lives.
“This place is my love and my life,” Klauber said. “I won’t see it die.”
Moulton, the Colony’s president and general manager, said the re-opening of the resort made her realize how important the Colony is to her and the community.
“We had hundreds and hundreds of phone calls from people the last two weeks, who told us they were happy we were back and told us stories about why this resort is so meaningful to them,” Moulton said. “It gave us hope for the future.”
But it’s been a tough couple of years for Klauber and Moulton.
Klauber filed a lawsuit against his association in April 2007 because he claimed the association, which believes its agreement with Klauber is null and void, failed to assess its members for a deficiency amount in the partnership of $2.1 million and for $12 million in maintenance costs. The judge ruled against them.
Klauber and Moulton, then, said they had no choice but to file for bankruptcy in October, less than a month after shutting down resort operations. Meanwhile, property taxes are owed in Sarasota County for various pieces of property, and Bank of America is attempting to foreclose on Klauber’s Colony property because it alleges he and his corporations defaulted on three loans whose outstanding amounts total $8.02 million.
None of this, however, seems to faze the duo.
When they shuttered the resort, they kept the restaurant open to salvage a piece of the independent resort brand the two have cultivated together for decades.
And, while the resort was shuttered for three months, renderings of “the new Colony” were displayed in the restaurant, reminding patrons that Klauber and Moulton still have visions of revitalizing the aging facility.
Klauber and Moulton plan to ask the town for 50 to 100 tourism units that are available through a 250 tourism-unit allocation pool.
Klauber wants to put the high-end units in a new building on some of the resort’s property that sits closer to Gulf of Mexico Drive.
His plan calls for spending $50 million to $60 million to build the units, along with a high-tech conference center, an international spa and a renovation of the resort’s existing 232 units.
And, although both are bogged down with bankruptcy legal proceedings, they continue to keep discussions open and are hopeful they can find investors to help them create an improved Colony.
But that new Colony, Moulton said, depends upon having positive dialogue with unit owners and a third-party investor who will work with both sides.
“The investors we are working with understand the Colony needs to not become a cookie-cutter, high-rise structure hotel,” Moulton said.
Moulton said the Colony will submit a bankruptcy reorganization plan by mid-January and work with the bank, its limited partners and creditors to gain their approval.
But, for now, Moulton and Klauber said they are just happy to have a portion of their resort running again.
Said Moulton: “To have happy faces in the swimming pool, on the beach and playing on the tennis courts is what we come to work for each and every day.”
Former occupation: Orthodontist
Hometown: Buffalo, N.Y.
Passion: Longboat Key
Interesting fact: Klauber spent years transforming a resort that had just a few tennis courts and 100 units when he bought it in 1972. He turned it into a facility that now boasts more than 20 courts and 230-plus units, including cottages and penthouses.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].