Make us your home page
Instagram

Condo-hotel sales trip up Hyatt Regency in Clearwater Beach

The Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa is facing several lawsuits from buyers of some of its condo-hotel suites.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

The Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa is facing several lawsuits from buyers of some of its condo-hotel suites.

Six months ago, dozens of community leaders gathered to celebrate Clearwater Beach's new luxury resort, the centerpiece of the city's $30 million BeachWalk promenade.

Since then, hotel reps say the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa has been a hit with vacationers.

But one part of the 250-suite resort's business has been lackluster: sales of suites as condo-hotel units.

Now, more people want out of their contracts to buy the units than have closed on them. At least seven lawsuits have been filed against the resort's owner, Crystal Beach Capital LLC, seeking to void eight condo contracts, including one of the resort's larger $2.97 million condo residences.

Crystal Beach, a subsidiary of NJR Development, has closed on five condo-hotel sales, county records show.

Most who filed suits say their contracts were breached because the developer took two years too long to complete the project.

NJR Development president Neil Rauenhorst said his team did its best in light of the complex project and tough economy.

"We tried to keep everybody fully informed as to our schedule, and we believe we have completed the project as quickly as possible, considering the construction requirements and also the challenge of the marketplace," he said.

The resort's suites are condo-hotels. That means people can buy them and stay up to 60 days a year. The rest of the year, the suites are rented to hotel guests and owners get a percentage of the revenue.

The 17-floor, 1 million-square-foot resort is part of the mixed-use Aqualea complex, which also has 18 condo residences.

Flat condo sales in this economy are not exactly a surprise. Fifty-five out of the 250 condo-hotel units are under contract, Rauenhorst said, a couple more than a year ago. At this time last year, Rauenhorst said he expected to sell all the units in three years.

"The sale of condo-hotel units is primarily impacted by buyer financing. When that loosens up I think we'll see some traction and probably some acceleration in our sales," Rauenhorst said.

As for those who are struggling to close or simply want out, he said, "We're trying to work with them to obtain financing or deal with other issues."

Those who filed lawsuits against Crystal Beach are also requesting the return of their deposits, ranging from about $115,000 to $1.2 million.

One litigant is a Pennsylvania real estate company whose officer, Raymond Sobieski, had previously provided a testimonial on the resort's sales website.

Several of the suits say that, according to purchase agreements, condominiums were supposed to be finished by Dec. 31, 2007, but the suites were not ready until about two years later. One woman who made that claim, Mary McKim of Kentucky, paid more than $900,000 in deposits on two condos, one of which was the $2.97 million residence.

In its response to her suit and others, Crystal Beach said that according to the agreement, the "outside date" in the contract is "only an estimate" and the seller is not obligated to finish by then.

In another case involving Todd and Irina Berger of Pinellas Park, Crystal Beach said "there was no obligation" to complete the condominium "by any date."

Jeffrey and Lori Mattox's suit says they were induced to pay their final deposit with claims the developer intended to begin construction by December 2006. But, the Palm Harbor couple's suit says, when they were asked to make their final deposit, Crystal Beach did not have construction financing in place.

The developer obtained more than $180 million in financing in August 2007, according to another unrelated case.

Closings on the condo-hotel units began four months after the resort opened. And that irks Manuel Rose, who said he was ready to buy in February after the resort opened.

His company filed suit in April. Rose, who paid a $123,150 deposit for a $615,750 condo suite, said he visited the resort in February and was told he couldn't close because the company hadn't yet filed certain documents with the state.

"They purposely used the place to make money during the peak season," Rose said.

Rauenhorst said closings weren't scheduled right away because his team was busy getting the hotel opened. They also had a large number of documents to submit after finishing construction of the building, he said.

In February, city leaders lauded Rauenhorst for pulling off the project, which finally became a reality after a decade and two previous owners.

Since then, occupancy is way ahead of projections, said Nancy Longstreth, the resort's director of sales and marketing.

"The resort "sold out pretty much the whole months of March and April," she said, and it continues to sell out most weekends.

"We've heard that we have had one of the strongest openings that Hyatt has ever experienced," Rauenhorst said. "I think that says a tremendous amount, the magnitude of success we've achieved in a most challenging economic environment."

Lorri Helfand can be reached at lorri@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4155.

Condo-hotel sales trip up Hyatt Regency in Clearwater Beach 07/30/10 [Last modified: Friday, July 30, 2010 7:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Have your say Tampa Bay on the region's future transit options

    Mass Transit

    TAMPA — It's time, yet again, for Tampa Bay residents to tell officials what kind of transit options they want for their region.

    The Cross-Bay Ferry docks at the Tampa Convention Center on its maiden voyage on Nov. 1, 2016. A regional premium transit study will determine whether a ferry, or other options such as express buses or light rail, would be a good addition to Tampa Bay. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  2. SOCom seeks civilian drone pilots to develop new technology through ThunderDrone

    Macdill

    TAMPA — For the last three years, Nicole Abbett has been using drones as part of her photography business, with clients like the city of Tampa and construction companies.

    Josh Newby, 31, Palm Harbor, of Tampa Drones fly's a drone in England Brothers park, Pinellas Park, 8/25/16. As drone popularity increases as a hobby and business, local governments are navigating a legal grey area- where, when, and how should drone flights be allowed?
  3. New apartment complex delivers unique floor plans



    Business

    RIVERVIEW — A new luxury apartment community has opened in the Progress Village area touting itself as a distinct living option just 10 miles from downtown Tampa.

    Alta at Magnolia Park dubs its new apartment community, that opened earlier this year in Riverview, a modern and distinct option for living just 10 miles from downtown Tampa.
  4. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming

    Roads

    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  5. A sports rout on Wall Street

    Retail

    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.