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Wrecking ball begins taking down Colony centerpiece

Unicorp demolition of buildings began in late July.

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  • | 11:59 a.m. November 19, 2018
A wrecking ball began taking swings at the midrise building on the property of the former Colony Beach & Tennis Resort on Monday morning.
A wrecking ball began taking swings at the midrise building on the property of the former Colony Beach & Tennis Resort on Monday morning.
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Demolition of the mid-rise building at the former Colony Beach & Tennis Resort is expected to wrap up this week, the last of the buildings that made up the former world-class vacation destination.

A wrecking ball began knocking off pieces of the six-story building Monday morning. Recently, the former home to Colony owner Dr. Murray "Murf'' Klauber was deemed unsafe and ordered demolished, along with the rest of the resort buildings, by the town of Longboat Key. A fire broke out on the upper floors in September, extinguished by Longboat Key Fire Rescue from a ladder truck because of the conditions inside.

The 17.6-acre site at 1620 Gulf of Mexico Drive is now mostly a pile of rubble and steel that is being trucked off the site owned by Unicorp National Developments Corp. The Orlando company wants to transform the site into a $600 million St. Regis Hotel and Residences, a combination hotel and condominium development.

Demolition began July 26. With the demolition of the mid-rise building, developer Chuck Whittall, CEO of Unicorp, met the town’s demand that the former resort’s 28 buildings be demolished in 120 days.

Following the demolition work, the town is requiring Unicorp to grade the property and plant grass to keep wind-borne dust and erosion to a minimum.

On Monday morning, a large crane was being used to knock down the upper floors of the structure, where a potted plant was still visible on one of the porches. Windows and other components of the building had been removed in recent weeks. Onlookers were kept off the property by the demolition crew.

Whittall still needs to clear a legal hurdle with some of the report’s former unit owners before he can take undisputed ownership of the property and begin construction. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for January.

The Colony closed in 2010.

Also, town commissioners are expected to decide at their Dec. 3 meeting to approve a request by Unicorp to build a sales office on the site. In October, the town Planning & Zoning Board unanimously rejected a request to change a zoning law that would have allowed a sales office to be constructed on the grounds.

Town zoning laws allow temporary real estate offices to be established only during project construction. Off-site sales offices are permitted, but Whittall said it’s important to have an on-site sales office so buyers can see what they are buying.  


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