Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Defunct Longboat Resort Is Up for Bid

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Defunct Longboat Resort Is Up for Bid

Article excerpt

THE COLONY: Outcome of court action could put site even closer to reopening

LONGBOAT KEY -- Is there light at the end of the tunnel for the empty and bedraggled Colony Beach & Tennis Resort?

Possibly.

In fact, depending on how some court action goes this week, the resort could be one step closer to reopening.

An auction scheduled for Thursday in Tampa could decide who will own much of the dilapidated property.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge K. Rodney May will hold the auction in a Tampa courtroom of the estate of Colony Lender LLC, the group representing the hotel's master developer Murray "Murf" Klauber.

"The auction will grant the highest bidder the rights to pursue litigation," said Jeff Warren, a Tampa Bay area attorney who represents The Colony's unit owners. "The unit owners are interested in only resolving this and getting the bankruptcy trustee out of the way. This could be the first step toward that."

Last year, unit owners hoped to settle with Colony Lender, but that trustee organization said its rights were not protected in the plan for settlement, so the court did not approve it.

"We had hoped for the settlement, but this is the next step in the right direction," Warren said.

The Colony opened in 1979 and was one of Southwest Florida's most popular vacation destinations for decades, know by visitors from around the nation and Canada.

But the once-lively tennis club and 237-unit waterfront resort on Longboat Key -- named tops in the nation by U.S. Tennis magazine from 1996 to 2004 -- closed in August 2010 because of a dispute between condominium unit owners and Klauber over millions of dollars in needed repairs.

Klauber and the unit owners have been locked in legal battles ever since, while The Colony has fallen further and further into disrepair.

The vacant resort buildings have structural problems and mold. Some facilities have suffered break-ins.

Both Citizens Insurance and Longboat Key town officials have noted that the resort is beyond repair.

At least two others expected to bid

Earlier this week, Colony Lender filed an emergency motion to delay the auction.

That motion was denied, but Judge May allowed for the trustee's company to take part in the bidding process during the Thursday auction. …

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