- April 5, 2019
Construction of The Residences at The St. Regis Longboat Key Resort is expected to begin this summer following the conclusion of legal proceedings to terminate the condominium association of the former Colony Beach & Tennis Resort, Unicorp National Developments CEO Chuck Whittall said.
Deals for the last of the former Colony units were concluded recently, and an order to terminate the association was agreed to by Unicorp, the Colony Beach & Tennis Club Association Inc. and former unit owners. A circuit court judge signed it this week.
“It was all settled amicably, and we are actually submitting plans for the [Longboat Key] building department [the week of Jan. 18] for them to start to review for our permits,” Whittall said. “We expect a target to start construction probably in July.”
Whittall said work on underground utilities would kick off construction on the land that has stood vacant since November 2018.
“They’ll probably take us the first 90 days before we start going vertical, pouring floors of building walls,” he said. “And then it’s going to take us 30 months to build it.”
The termination of the condominium association was the final step before Unicorp could move forward with tangible changes to the property at 1620 Gulf of Mexico Drive. The three parties submitted their plan for termination in November 2020 to Circuit Judge Hunter Carroll. He signed the order on Jan. 19.
With the sale of the final units, Unicorp Acquisitions LLC now owns all 237 former residential condominium units and seven accessory units that were once controlled by the condominium association.
Although Unicorp purchased some former Colony units through the years from individual buyers, the termination agreement set prices for the remainder of the units on a consistent scale. Premiums were paid above the base purchase price of $170,852 for beachfront units and units in the resort’s mid-rise building.
Unicorp paid $370,852 for beachfront units and $270,852 for mid-rise units, according to court documents. Total paid by Unicorp for the units was about $18.5 million. Whittall said construction financing is still in the works, but the company is working with a lender to close that loop.
The termination of the condominium association brings to a close years of litigation as Unicorp worked to consolidate its ownership of the once-tony resort popular with tennis stars, celebrities and Longboat Key residents.
“It’s what I’ve been working for for eight years,” Whittall said.
The litigation to judicially terminate the association was prompted by Whittall’s inability to secure the action through a vote of the condominium board. Former unit owner Andy Adams controlled enough units to block the necessary vote margin for a voluntary termination.
That stalemate broke last spring when Whittall and Adams agreed to a multimillion-dollar agreement to buy his 75 units. The deal headed off the need for a civil trial that would have determined how the remaining units would be sold. Public records of the transfer of Adams’ units show a total price of more than $15 million, broken into three segments. Those sales were finalized in September 2020.
Whittall explained that Unicorp will own the property, but the Marriott Company will manage it under the St. Regis banner.
“We have an extended contract with them, like 50 years, for them to manage the property for us,” he said.
Town leaders granted permission in March 2018 to proceed with development plans after several design iterations that saw the number of units fall from an initial proposal of 180 residential units. Barring any changes in what was approved, no further public hearings would be necessary, though building plans will require town review before permits can be issued, said Allen Parsons, the director of the town’s planning, zoning and building department.
Once completed, the project could add about $1.5 million annually in taxes to the town budget.
The planned development proposes 166 hotel rooms and 78 residential condominium units. The 18-acre parcel has been empty since the last building was demolished in November 2018 following a determination from the town the abandoned buildings posed a hazard.
Michael Saunders & Co. announced the launch of sales in July 2020, following up three months later with word that 30 of the units had been spoken for at a value of about $200 million. Whittall said two $18.5 million penthouses have been reserved, which he called the highest-priced condominiums on the west coast of Florida.
“It’s been a couple of condos a week,” he said. “It’s probably averaging one or two a week.”
Prices for residential units begin at about $2 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. Units range from about 1,500 square feet to nearly 6,000 and from one bedroom, one-and-one-half baths to four bedrooms, five-and-one-half baths.
Whittall said the hotel is designed to elicit a five-star ranking with amenities including: