Deposits taken on 39 of the planned 69 units at Longboat Key project, developer says.
| 1:10 p.m. October 7, 2020
More than half of the 69 condominiums at the planned St. Regis Hotel and Residences on Longboat Key have been reserved with deposits, including a deposit for what developer Chuck Whittall called"the most expensive condo ever on the west coast of Florida."
Construction on the residential and tourism complex at 1620 Gulf of Mexico Drive is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2021, with completion about two years later.
Michael Saunders & Company is the sales broker for Unicorp National Developments Inc.
“It is exciting,’’ said Whittall, the president of Unicorp. “As a matter of fact, I wasn't even going to start sales until Thanksgiving. And Michael Saunders in her group said, ‘Chuck, we need to start earlier because there's a lot of demand.’ We had over a hundred people on a list.’’
Whittall said changes in seasonal residents’ travel routines, brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, might have played a role in the unexpected interest.
“What's happened is a lot of the snowbirds have chosen not to go back up North, which you'd probably noticed the Circle’s been busier,’’ he said. “It’s actually been helpful for us because people made the permanent decision to live on Longboat Key. And that's where a lot of our sales has come from.’’
The residential units are listed for sale between about $2 million and nearly $20 million, in three buildings grouped on the southern half of the property: Armand, Bateau and Champagne alongside the 166-room hotel complex, which borders the northern side of the property. Whittall said a nearly $20 million unit is spoken for. Of the 69 residential units, 39 are reserved by buyers, accounting for nearly $200 million in potential sales, he said.
Units range from about 1,500 square feet to nearly 6,000 and from 1 bedroom, 1.5 baths to four bedrooms, 5.5 baths.
With a sales office in place at Michael Saunders’ downtown Sarasota office, Whittall said it is now unlikely Unicorp will build an on-site sales center, which town officials approved in early 2019.
"Once I hit another 10%, which is another, you know, six or seven units, I've really met all the hurdles for my bank that they're going to require for financing,'' Whittall said. "So, you know, six or seven more units, we're there.''
Sales began in late July.
“Leading the sales effort for such a special Longboat Key address has been thrilling for our team,” said Michael Saunders, Founder and CEO of Michael Saunders & Company said in a prepared statement. “We are very enthusiastic about the response and astounding sales success experienced this summer, especially during these unprecedented times. Longboat Key has a long-standing tradition of creating unique experiences and memories for its residents and visitors from around the world. The St. Regis residents will enjoy the beachfront lifestyle as well the luxuries of a world-class, five-star resort resplendent with an array of private amenities. This will be the most idyllic place to live and relax in an island enclave located close to amazing arts venues, shopping and dining.”
Unicorp is also still working on acquiring units from owners of the former Colony Beach & Tennis Resort.
Whittall said sales were finalized in September with former unit owner Andy Adams, a nearly $17 million deal for 75 units, which headed off a potential civil trial to determine how units would be sold -- either at auction or private sale. Unicorp Acquisitions II LLC has been closing with three or four individual unit owners a week for the last month or so as the company moves closer to complete ownership.
Before development can proceed, the former resort’s condominium association must still be dissolved, which was for years impossible with Adams blocking the decision by virtue of his bloc of units. Unicorp now controls 140 of 237 former Colony units. Whittall said he expects to have all of them under Unicorp ownership by the end of November.
Whittall said conceptual plans, basic schematics and design documents are complete in preparation for construction. Construction documents remain, as do building permits and approvals from the town of Longboat Key. Town commissioners in March 2018 gave Unicorp the green light to pursue its plans, but ownership issues remained to be ironed out.
Among the amenities planned:
An homage to the Colony’s famous Monkey Bar
A prime seafood and steak restaurant, called CW Prime
The St. Regis grille
A beachside café
A saltwater lagoon with rays swimming freely
A daily sabering of champagne in the lobby, a St. Regis hotel tradition
Whittall, who said he plans to own a condo at the complex, said it is his goal to make the St. Regis site and Longboat Key world famous.
“I think Longboat key will get awarded several times as the nicest beach in the nation,’’ he said. “It doesn't have a real reason to be recognized right now. And there will be nothing on the west coast of Florida like this. And it’s really my goal is to make it the nicest hotel in the state of Florida. And I think we're going to get there.’’