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Unicorp offer sparks war of words among Colony parties

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  • | 4:00 a.m. August 11, 2014
  • Longboat Key
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Unicorp National Developments Inc. President Chuck Whittall’s message to owners at the 237-unit Colony Beach & Tennis Resort:

“You remain personally liable — for millions.”

In an Aug. 6 letter to owners, Whittall warned them that their assets are at risk and urged them to choose one of four options to avoid future litigation.

“While some may take that as a threat, I communicate that to you as reality. The standoff between warring factions that has allowed this once pristine resort property to decline to a state of absolute disrepair and become less than an afterthought in the vacation marketplace will not continue on my watch. However, a litigated approach is not our preferred approach,” Whittall wrote.

Jay Yablon, president of the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort Association, told the Longboat Observer Monday:

“It’s not an offer. It’s an ultimatum based on numerous false and misleading statements.”

Colony Lender LLC has an agreement with Unicorp to transfer its resort assets — which include a 95% interest in a 2.3-acre recreational property at the center of the resort plus 100% ownership of the restaurant complex and the former penthouse office of longtime Colony owner Dr. Murray “Murf” Klauber.

Whittall envisions a five-star resort that will consist of a 160- to 175-room hotel, along with a couple hundred condo and tourist units for the property.

Offers outlined in his letter include the following plus no future liability for unit owners who are willing to deed their unit to Unicorp: $20,000 cash; free seven-day occupancy for five years in the future hotel; purchase a tourist unit at a 10% discount; or purchase a condo unit at a 10% discount.

“In the past, the units were habitable,” Whittall said. “Now, they’re more of a liability than a value. They can’t be lived in, have to be bulldozed and rebuilt. “God forbid there’s a hurricane, and there’s no insurance on them.”

Whittall said the new hotel could be called Hotel Armand or operate under a flag name but won’t be known as the Colony.

“I think the Colony has too many bad stigmas attached to it,” he said. “It’s time for something new and fresh.”

Yablon, however, accused Unicorp and Colony Lender of working to block any settlement among the parties.

“This is an attempted hostile takeover of the entire Colony,” he said. “It is an effort to perpetuate litigation at the Colony until everybody else gives up and walks away.”

For more information, pick up an Aug. 14 copy of the Longboat Observer.

Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected].