Colony Resort demolition makes way for new development

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Demolition on the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort on Longboat Key began Thursday. Those who remember the resort back when it was a highlight of the community are sad to see it go, but are ready for the change.

"The Colony closed many many many years ago and we've been waiting for that moment," Nancy Arbuckle said. "My family moved to the Sarasota area a little over 40 years ago and this has always been a fabulous piece of property." 

When the Colony closed it's doors in 2010, a lengthy court battle ensued. Decay slowly crept in. 

"The Colony has a great history. Everybody knows George Bush was here on 9/11, Audrey Hepburn stayed here, Andre Agassi learned how to play tennis here. There's been a lot of great things that happened here, but over the last 10 years the only thing that has happened here is the buildings have deteriorated," said the president of Unicorp National Development, Chuck Whittall. 

After an emergency demolition order was issued by the town of Longboat Key, crews began work to clear the property. Demolition will last up to five months. 

Crews will need to empty each building before they can tear them down. The contractor says they need to be careful when dealing with mold and asbestos. 

Whittall said construction on a new resort will begin next year. He's planning a five-star, 166-room resort with 78 condominiums.

It'll be the beginning of a new era where good times and memories will continue. Whittall said the new resort will also commemorate the Colony.

A book will be available for guests about the Colony's past. He plans on naming a new tiki bar after the Colony's iconic Monkey Bar.

"The sad part is seeing something come down because it washes memories away, but just like the tide comes in, new memories come in," he added.