In 1968, Buffalo, N.Y. orthodontist Dr. Murray “Murf” Klauber sat on the shore outside of the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort and found himself wondering “What am I doing in Buffalo?” Weeks later, he and his then-wife, Joanna Brown, moved their three children, Michael, Katie and Tommy to Longboat Key to buy the Colony.
Klauber went on to create the first condominium-resort, rental-partnership agreement formed in Florida in 1972. During his first seven years at the Colony, Klauber commuted between Longboat Key and Buffalo, where he continued to practice three days a week as an orthodontist. The resort was known as a family business, where each of Klauber’s children got their starts: Katie Klauber Moulton, who became president and general manager of the Colony, got her start at 11, serving coffee in the resort’s dining room. Michael Klauber, owner of Michael’s on East, scored his first job at the resort’s front desk, and Pattigeorge’s and Polo Grill and Bar owner Tommy Klauber was 9 when he began working the buffet.
Throughout his time on Longboat Key, Klauber has been a well-known figure in town politics. He donated his former Far Horizons tennis building to the town and had it moved to its current location at 4052 Gulf of Mexico Drive, where it stands today as Bayfront Park Recreation Center. Klauber was honored as the 1988 “Citizen of the Year” by what was then the Kiwanis Club of Sarasota Keys.
Klauber planned to build a luxury spa condominium, the Reserve, on the Far Horizons property but had his building permit pulled for alleged lack of work on the project for 30 days. In 1988, he filed suit against the town and various commissioners and town staff. After eight years, a federal jury awarded Klauber nearly $9 million in damages. Klauber settled with the town for $6.5 million in cash in March 1997.
Under Klauber’s direction, the Colony became an internationally known resort and was recognized as the No. 1 tennis resort in the U.S. by Tennis magazine for an unprecedented eight consecutive years.
The Colony also hosted many noteworthy celebrities and politicians, including President George W. Bush on Sept. 10, 2001.
In 2007, Klauber filed a lawsuit in Sarasota County alleging that the Colony Beach & Tennis Association unit owners owed $14.1 million in repair costs.
After three years of lawsuits, the resort closed in August 2010 when Judge K. Rodney May converted the Colony Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization to Chapter 7, giving unit owners complete control over their units. However, U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday ruled in favor of Klauber in October, ordered a bankruptcy court to decide whether the Colony Beach & Tennis Association should return possession of units to the partnership that ran the Colony and recommend receive damages of $7,751,470 or recommend an award of $20,646,312 for the partnership with no return of units.
Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected].