The long-awaited sale of the historic Naples Beach Hotel property has encountered a problem.
The sale did not go through as planned last week, delayed by a last-minute legal challenge and a claim from a neighboring resident.
Gregory Myers, who lives on Gulf Shore Boulevard, filed a lawsuit on May 27 at Collier Circuit Court, alleging that his private property rights were violated.
Based on publicly registered dishes and easements, he claims he has an interest in the land, although he technically owns none.
With this interest, Myers argues that he should have more power to determine what happens to the property, which needs to be redeveloped.
Claims in his lawsuit include title slander and nuisance.
Myers could not be contacted for further comment.
He sued both the buyers and sellers of the 125-acre property, through their affiliates.
Court records show that he represents himself.
The buyer, The Athens Group, plans to raze the beach hotel and build a five-star 220-room resort with “best-in-class” residential condos on both sides of Gulf Shore Boulevard North.
In a brief email statement, Kim Richards, CEO of The Athens Group, confirmed that the sale was unsuccessful.
“The closing of our acquisition of the Naples Beach Hotel has been temporarily delayed by the filing of a last minute lawsuit and lis pendens. We look forward to resolving this matter as soon as possible, ”he said.
Property records show that Myers also filed a lis pendens notice in Collier’s Circuit Court.
Lis pendens is an official public notice of a lawsuit. A plaintiff can use it to place a cloud over the title of a subject property until the lawsuit is resolved. This can delay a sale as it can create more obstacles for both buyers and sellers.
The Naples Beach Hotel closed permanently on May 23, ending 75 years of management by the Watkins family, who owned and operated the resort property for three generations.
The family declined to comment on the unexpected legal issues.
The redevelopment plans have faced opposition from the neighborhood.
Along with others, Myers has repeatedly expressed his concerns about the planned redevelopment at city council meetings, including his objections to any major changes to the championship golf course.
In his lawsuit, Myers claims he is entitled to “the reasonable use and enjoyment of the land,” including its streets, avenues and alleys.
Myers has sought injunctive and declaratory relief from the court, seeking to prevent sellers and buyers from registering new easement property-related agreements, including financing statements or property deeds.
When real estate changes hands, it’s usually done by deed.
In the lawsuit, Myers alleges that a development agreement the buyers made with the city is illegal and that he has an “acquired right” to keep the golf course and its clubhouse and driveway in their use. current “only”.
He also maintains that he has “the right to a breathtaking view of the Gulf of Mexico”, which is threatened by the new mixed-use development.
Myers says he “will suffer irreparable harm” if the court does not grant him the relief sought.
“An injunction will serve the public interest because the ownership of the easement must remain available for ‘public use forever’,” he said.
In a separate but related action, Myers recently appealed a decision by the city’s Design Review Board to approve a renovation and expansion of HB’s, a popular waterfront restaurant, on the resort’s property. He lost this fight.
Sitting as an appeals commission, city council unanimously confirmed approval of planned improvements to the restaurant last week.
At that hearing, Myers claimed his easement rights would be violated with the reconstruction, similar to the argument he is making in his retrial.
The Athens group plans to continue operating HB not only for its guests and residents, but also for the community. However, it is closed for the time being, along with the golf course, in anticipation of the sale and future improvements.
Before voting against the appeal, City Councilor Paul Perry said Myers had a “private property dispute” that could be resolved in court.
“We, as the appeal board, have no authority to resolve private property disputes,” he said.
In 2019, when a previous Naples City Council approved the hotel’s redevelopment plans, it accepted an easement from the Athens Group that would allow the city to preserve the golf course as an open green space. .
The current Council has sought to strengthen this easement, through the participation of a land trust.
This will require more negotiation and cooperation from the developer.
For now, the developer is focused on finalizing the sale.