- July 11, 2016
In an email to Colony Beach and Tennis Resort unit owners, Colony Association President Jay Yablon said the property’s developer has agreed to pay owners the originally proposed amount for their units and dismiss legal disputes involving the association.
In a March 14 referendum, Longboat Key voters denied Unicorp National Developments’ original proposal for the property, which included adding 180 residential units to the site’s existing 237 tourism units. Chuck Whittall, president of Unicorp, had initially offered owners between $130,000 and $200,000 per unit, but after the referendum results were announced, Whittall said that offer would need to be lowered.
“Obviously with us losing the density we had sought after, it changes the value of the property,” Whittall said the morning after the election. “If you can build less on it, it’s worth less.”
Upon hearing the results, Whittall offered $50,000 per unit to any owner who would be willing to sell immediately. Now, that’s no longer the case.
Yablon and other members of the Colony Association’s development committee met with Whittall on April 19. In his email to unit owners after the meeting, Yablon said that Whittall had revived his initial offer.
“I am very pleased to advise you that Chuck has agreed to keep intact, without any reductions, the consideration paid and all other benefits provided to the unit owners under the present development agreement,” Yablon wrote.
Further, Yablon said Whittall had agreed to dismiss the appeal of the recent recreational lease ruling in exchange for the Colony Association waiving its sanctions recovery, “resulting in final closure of those disputes with no further legal costs.”
Yablon said the committee will schedule a public board meeting in the near future to discuss the new developments.
“It will be the committee’s recommendation to the board and to the owners to continue the present development agreement with Unicorp, as necessarily amended to address these positive changes,” Yablon wrote.
Although Whittall confirmed Yablon’s statement, the developer added that aspects of Unicorp’s new plan for the property are contingent on the Longboat Key Town Commission’s decision regarding the town’s planned unit development process.
An ordinance concerning the PUD process will be subject to first reading and public hearing Monday, May 1, at the Town Commission meeting.
Though Whittall said he is not ready to discuss the details of a new proposal for the Colony property, the developer said he will attend Monday’s meeting to ask commissioners to consider making the maximum building height on the Key 80 feet over elevation.
At a meeting in February, the Planning and Zoning board approved language in the ordinance that would have allowed that height limit for new buildings, as long as buildings were set back 2.5 times the height of the building from Gulf of Mexico Drive. In other words, an 80-foot building would have to be no closer than 200 feet from GMD.
But at a workshop meeting in March, the Town Commission rejected the Planning and Zoning Board’s 80-foot recommendation and returned to the 65-foot benchmark.
The 80-foot height limit would not only be beneficial for the Colony project, Whittall said, but for any developer hoping to redevelop a building to include higher ceilings in units. He also said it would allow developers to design properties with more open outdoor space.
Whittall will also request the commission strike language from the ordinance that would require developers to build the allotted tourism units attached to a property when redeveloping that property.
If the commission approves these two requirements, Whittall said he hopes to submit an application for the project in June. The developer added that residents of the condominiums neighboring the Colony property -— TenCon and Aquarius — support these aspects of his plan.
Yablon shared his email to unit owners with members of the Town Commission, noting that the agreement with Whittall comes “less than two weeks shy of the tenth anniversary of the first lawsuit at the Colony.”
“We look forward to your assistance and cooperation in finally bringing the Colony back to life with the help of Unicorp and Charles Whittall, whom I expect will remain our business partner of choice in this undertaking,” Yablon told the commission.