A secluded enclave near the beach and center of many island activities
Lush foliage, a relaxed atmosphere but close to everything you may need or want, Buttonwood Harbour is a calling for those who desire to live in their own little enclave of paradise. Buttonwood Harbour is midway up the 11-mile Gulf of Mexico Drive stretch that runs the length of Longboat Key. This is the center of activity for Longboat Key, with a shopping center nearby anchored by Publix and the proposed Longboat Key Cultural and Arts Center next door.
The 50 homes that make up Buttonwood Harbour are second and third generation populated, mostly single story homes that have been upgraded since their original construction in the 1960s. These are homes in an ecosystem of wildlife and I reported nesting Bald Eagles in REALTALK™ #116. Here you have single family homes with garages and private access to the Gulf of Mexico beaches.
In particular I was describing a three-bedroom home I announced for sale at 604 Buttonwood Drive. This lovely home offered furnished is decorated with comfortable décor and the space has been tastefully upgraded with newly-installed designer tile throughout. The kitchen and bathrooms boast neutral granite countertops and new sinks with designer faucets.
The Cedars Tennis Resort is a short drive up Gulf of Mexico Drive. This private membership club offers 10 Har-Tru tennis courts, private professional instruction and daily clinics to perfect your tennis strategies. After a rigorous workout relax with a yoga session or casual swim in the pool. There is a fitness center open 24 hours and bicycles for member use. You can further relax and catch some light food at the café and tiki bar on-site.
There are plenty of good opportunities for boaters. The Buttonwood Harbour Association offers boat owners dockage for only $500 a year and have a free boat ramp for all owners to use. The waterways begin in Cranes Bayou that pours into a unique set of navigable channels in Buttonwood Harbour.
The markers in the channels are maintained by a private, non-profit group, Buttonwood Harbor Channel System, Inc. They report the markers to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for use in their navigation charts, the charts used by seagoing navigators. Coast Guard and NOAA recognize these markers for their accuracy. The channels are deep and reported with a six-foot minimum at mean low tide. Fishing, sailing or relaxing in the shallow waters of the Jewfish Key sandy shoal are just some of the activities for boaters. Others may prefer to moor at a fine bayside restaurant or cruise the waters to spy dolphins or manatees.
For those owners of a super-yacht, the Moorings of the Longboat Key Club are a short drive away. This is the luxury marina with restaurant, spa, concierge service and 24/7 security. Your yacht of 200 feet can be well maintained there by your crew or the professional mechanics on staff.
Surrounding the marina are the three challenging courses of the Longboat Key Club Harbourside Golf Course. The White Egret, Red Hawk and Blue Heron nine holes each make up the system of 27 holes at Harbourside. They have many of the amenities that are also present in the Cedars Tennis Resort. So if you have a strong tendency for golf, you may consider joining the Longboat Key Club or both.
The community of Buttonwood Cove is just north of Cranes Bayou. The 57 residences here were constructed in 1980. Owners have access to community and private boat docks, or a fishing pier. There is a resort style pool, hot tub and tennis courts at 3500-3600 Gulf of Mexico Dr.
Last week I put on the market a wonderful, stylishly furnished upgraded residence at Beachplace with a newer kitchen. This two-bedroom property on the fifth floor of building seven at Beachplace is ready for you to enjoy. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.
An overseas trend started here to combine hotel and residences
It was the turn of the century just a few short years ago when one of the biggest names in the luxury hotel market was making its mark in Sarasota history. For it was in the year 2001 The Ritz-Carlton was making its debut in downtown Sarasota overlooking Marina Jack. It was an interesting concept back then, following an overseas trend for using a portion of the reservation money for residences to help finance a world class resort hotel.
Today the Ritz-Carlton residences is the dream that luxury ownership provides. The hotel was completed with six different floor plans and views. The 50 residences above the hotel provides a picturesque view of Sarasota and the waters that stretch out to the Gulf of Mexico. The Ringling Bridge is dazzling at sunset and a wonderful sight at night.
As was the original plan, 80 more residences in a 17-story building were added to the grounds in 2003. These homes on Watergate Drive next door to the hotel have become known as the Tower Residences. Owners here enjoy the many amenities that the Ritz-Carlton system provides. The luxury swimming pools, concierge service, valets, fine dining are all there for your pleasure. I reported on my January 2017 Comparative Market Analysis that the average price among the seven residences sold in the last year was $2,246,786, or $728 per square foot.
The residences are centrally located to many of the favorite dining and entertainment venues that have made Sarasota famous as a cultural arts center. Within a short walk you can go to the opera, listen to a symphony orchestra or catch a world-renown act at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. You can stroll over to Marina Jack where you might have your yacht docked. Or you can attend a live performance at one of the professional local theaters.
In order to expand the services that you might expect at a Ritz-Carlton, a beach club was added on Lido Key. Within a short drive over the Ringling Bridge, owners have access to the beach club and the amenities. The Ritz-Carlton Beach Residences were added in 2005, 88 luxury homes within 12 stories with villas on the first three floors and estates on the remaining levels. There is 400 feet of sand that touches the Gulf of Mexico shoreline, with its near perfect white sand quartz crystals that reflect most of the rays from the sun. This characteristic reduces the heat of the sand and makes it very comfortable to walk on even on the most brilliant of sunlit days.
Across the street is Ted Sperling Park where you can stroll the paths that lead out to the red mangroves. Many visitors prefer to kayak on the shallow waters inside the park, gliding over the sea grass hoping to catch a glimpse of a west Indian manatee that frequent the area in the summer months. The kayak and paddleboard tours take you through an amazing amount of the local ecosystem of birds, fish, mammals and plant life.
If boutique shopping and fine dining is on your plan for any day, world famous St. Armands Circle is near the Beach Residences. Walk the circle and discover the Ring of Fame, a hall of fame created for the most highly regarded circus performers. A plaque for each is placed around the circle. And when you are finished dining, shopping or sightseeing there are a number of places you can relax to enjoy a favorite beverage. On my January CMAs for the last 12 months there were three homes sold at the Beach Residences averaging $883 per square foot.
You would also expect to play a round of golf at a Ritz-Carlton resort. Full membership in the Ritz-Carlton Club grants you access to all the benefits above and the 18-hole championship course with 16 lakes on 315 acres with a Grand Clubhouse that has won numerous awards.
The three resorts and golf course in 2001-2005 were not the first Ritz-Carlton venture in the Sarasota area. Grand plans for a Ritz-Carlton resort with golf course were laid out in 1926 by the famous John Ringling, circus and developer magnate. His plans laid the foundation for this area as an attraction for the affluent society. He was responsible for the first Ringling Bridge, much of Bird Key, St. Armands Circle and his next foray into attracting the rich, the Ritz-Carlton on the lower end of Longboat Key. It was not a Ritz-Carlton as in a Marriott resort like it is today, Ringling bought the naming rights for an annual fee of $5,000.
The 235 hotel rooms that made up the resort was a modern marvel of design and building construction. Over the years plans were added for a golf course, airport and train that would ferry guests to and from the mainland. However, late in that first year Ringling halted construction. Ten years later, John Ringling’s nephew and executor of the Ringling estate continued construction. The announcement prompted another developer, Martin Sweeney of New York, to continue the project. However, little progress was made and the project stalled. In 1963 and January 1964, the structure was razed. The Longboat Key Club and Resort was constructed on the site of the first Ritz-Carlton in the area. The nephew, John Ringling North, was added to the Ring of Fame this year in a ceremony last month.
I will soon be listing a residence for sale on the 15th floor above the Ritz-Carlton hotel. This home was custom designed by Anne Folsom Smith and has wonderful views of Sarasota's best. The floor plan is over 5,300 square feet, has three bedrooms, four baths, office, den, family room and enormous open kitchen. Last week I listed another residence near the Ritz-Carlton around the corner, across from Marina Jack on Gulfstream Avenue. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing of either or if you have a property to sell or buy.
Complete redesigns for main site and single property sites
We are well into 2017 so we reviewed our Internet marketing strategies for homes we have listed. We knew some things needed updating and started before the holidays with an initiative to advance our main website. We’ve gone through that process and have our new site launched. We reviewed our single property sites and found a new design that we think shows off our homes for sale in a much better way. We hope both are more intuitive and aligns us with the algorithms of the search engines.
The first major change to LongboatRealEstate.com is the video that plays across the screen when you open the home page. The video is a montage of Sarasota and Longboat Key scenes so that site visitors can get a glimpse of life in the area. It shows our beautiful weather, some of the culture and areas where you can dine out in luxury. It is short but if the visitor has serious work to do they can begin their home search or pull from the menus that are highlighted at the top.
The video and the entire site is in a design that is responsive to the size of screen you have or smartphone you may be carrying. A few years ago Google, the giant of all search engines with 80% of the searches on the Internet, announced it would favor websites that are optimized for mobile devises. We were ahead of the game and confirmed our site was good for their algorithm. But they change as technology changes. Now the search engines in their results are favoring websites that are responsive and adapt the output for mobile devices and desktop machines.
What that means for sellers that list with me is that their property has a better chance to be seen by buyers that are using a search engine to look for properties to buy. As the search engines adapt to the public use of technology such as smaller screen, we try to be at the forefront of those changes.
Scrolling down the home page you may see that we left the sliding images of the properties with direct links to our featured listings. The number of properties displayed is responsive to the size of the screen. On a desktop you may see 12 properties for sale, but may only see two on a large smartphone. In the old design the number was limited to five no matter what the size of screen.
We kept the other information such as my Monday articles that we rebranded as REALTALKplus™ to coordinate with my weekly REALTALK™ video series. We will be producing episode #118 this week. REALTALK™ appears as a video above the most current two articles. This is the video series where we discuss communities, events and real estate trends for the local market. There is a playlist on YouTube for all videos and a page on this website that lists all of my REALTALK™ videos with a transcript for each.
With the redesign we were able to keep all the information that we presented as before. Our challenges included such pages as our Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) data that tracks back as far as 2008 in monthly reports, and for 18 communities in Longboat Key and Sarasota. The web site is a repository of such information. For these communities with CMAs we have created easy search links so buyers can get for sale properties with one click of the mouse. Or they can use the advance search capabilities of the website.
And now the entire website is responsive to the smallest smartphones. On the older site of just last month we were limited to four categories when the site servers recognized a mobile phone. In the upper right corner under the logo there are three lines that expand out to links for all the same information that is available on the desktop version.
We felt it was important to roll out a new design for all the single property sites. Every client that lists a home with me has their own website attached to the address of the home for sale. So the new construction home at 6855 Gulf of Mexico Drive has its own website at www.6855gulfofmexicodrive.com. Our new listing in the Grand Bay community has its own web site at www.GrandBay524.com. These sites receive a lot of traffic from outside sources as the information is syndicated to over 40 real estate portals such as Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com. We feel the new design is more exciting and they also are responsive to different size screens as in our main web site. Another change is that most of the basic information for each home is condensed to one scrolling page. There is a drop-down menu in the upper right with access to more information though. I will be rolling out this new design to promote our homes moving forward.
I listed five new homes last week including one that has the most luxury appeal in a great location. The home at 622 S. Owl Drive is a waterfront home that has two lots that can be separated or left with the home with its mature landscaping for privacy. Our new listing at 975 Whitakers Lane in Sarasota is a boat-lover’s dream with direct access to Sarasota Bay and out to the Gulf of Mexico. The listings in the Islander Club at 2301 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #71N, the Promenade at 1211 Gulf of Mexico Dr, # 406 and the listing noted above in the Grand Bay community expand our inventory of luxury waterfront residences. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.
Three Sarasota locations share the history of the Ringling Circus
When one man’s junk becomes another’s treasure you may have a garage sale in mind. There are places in our area where the treasures are plentiful under one roof. And with the announcement that the Ringling Circus will have its last performance in May, treasures associated to it may become more valuable. That is the heritage of Sarasota that was started when brothers John and Charles Ringling brought their well-established circus here in 1919, over 35 years after the circus set up its first tent to entertain children and adults.
A good place to start is the Circus Museum on the campus of the John Ringling Museum, Welcome to the Big Show. There you can find interactive exhibits and walk a tight wire or for your youngster to experience a clown car. There is a great reproduction of the full circus as a model in the circus museum that first opened in 1948. The ornate decorations on the full scale band wagon greets you to give a sense of the circus eccentricity.
The museum has one of the largest collection of art history and theater in its library. The library is open to the public during museum hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. but the resource material is not in circulation. Customers have access to the digital collections as well, and Wi-fi is available for further research. During their Art After Five days each Thursday the museum is open until 8 p.m.
Across the street from the museum on Tamiami Trail is the Sarasota Classic Car Museum. The museum is home to over 75 classic and memorable automobiles, anything from a 1908 Rambler to a 2010 Spyker C8 Laviolette. The C8 has an Audi engine and can attain speeds up to 186 mph.
There is a circus connection, a beautifully restored 1922 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost was used by John Ringling as he motored around town. Nathan Clary at Vintage Motors of Sarasota forwarded me the history of this car that just went under a three-year restoration project, completed last year. Known as the Circus Train Ghost, this car traveled with John Ringling on his circus train and was the best known of his Rolls-Royce collection. The car was purchased from the estate and has been in the museum since 1953, except for one time when it was on display at the Ringling for his 150th birthday celebration on May 31, 2016. A Pierce Arrow that was once owned by his wife Mable Ringling is also on exhibit.
The Car Museum has a gift shop but also holds events that are associated with tribute bands in their events center. There are also performances by the five-member Sarasota Car Museum Club Band. This Saturday there is a tribute to the late Big O, Roy Orbison, featuring Shake, Rattle and Soul. On February 25 there is Motown Revue while Jimmy Mazz is Cruizin’ the 50s on March 3. The shows start early at 5:30 p.m. each day of the performances.
One wonderful place to own a piece of circus history is the Circus City Architectural Salvage at 1001 Central Avenue. The owners envisioned a store where every item is a treasure and has a story behind it. There you can find an eclectic assortment of treasures from the circus mixed in with other antiques and genuine originals.
Take for instance an original bar that lights up made from the front of a 1950 Chevrolet truck. It is custom made in Florida and is on sale for $6,495. A similar custom made bar imported from India sells for $2,495. This Tata Bus Bar also lights up. There are not many locations in Florida that has a full suit of armor, especially when it sells for the low price of $129.
These items are on the show floor interspersed with other items hanging in the rafters, sitting on the floor or carefully placed on shelves and arranged by the category they mostly represent. Foot-tall letters from A-Z are stacked on a shelve that has them listed for $20 each. Circus posters hang from the walls while stained glass is hung in the windows. You can find antiques, art, collectibles and other furniture.
They have vinyl records cataloged and set in crates arranged in alphabetical order. And if you don’t have a player for the records you may find a vintage one there too. Above them are bar lights that are lit from behind or lit with neon lights.
On occasion you can see circus performers as you enter the building, such as the magician that greeted us with his tricks as we entered on a recent Saturday. You can spend hours strolling the maze of aisles or maybe catch a performance. But get there before 5 p.m., that is when it closes every day but is closed for the day on Sundays.
I have three new listings last week on Longboat Key, a good variety. The Antigua floor plan residence at Grand Bay, #221 features designer updates. A Key West inspired home in Triton Cove is just steps from the Gulf of Mexico white sand beaches. The 3BR/3BA residence at Beach Harbor Club, #E412 is on the top floor with stunning bay views. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.
Implementing Smart Home technology to new home construction is advancing and with wireless connectivity added to the systems, the same technology can be added with integration to existing homes. In some respect a programmable thermostat to control heating and air conditioning is considered the basic level of a Smart Home, but there is a whole new world when you plan your Smart Home around environmental, security and entertainment controls.
I first reported on Smart Home technology two years ago with a demonstration in REALTALK™#42 by Mark Bolduc of Wicked Smart Homes. Since then his company has implemented systems in such places as the new Infinity community on Longboat Key and many other homes and residences in the area. I updated advances in Smart Homes this month in REALTALK™ #114.
A lot has changed since then. I learned first-hand of some of the new technologies at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. This past weekend Harold Bubil, real estate editor for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, interviewed me for his article on Smart Homes and BuilderFest. The emphasis now is on voice recognition and total integration.
A software app that recognizes your commands is the beginning of a new frontier in these systems. Whether you tell Siri to turn on the lights, turn up the volume of your Sonos speaker system in the family room, or activate your home security alarm, the integration of voice commands to Smart Homes is the future.
Even Amazon’s Echo with Alexa software is considered for home integration and companies are now building this component into their televisions and home appliances such as refrigerators. Some day you may be able to ask how long has the milk been stored in your refrigerator. Alexa is currently implemented in Smart Home hubs, lighting, HVAC and security systems. A smaller version, the Echo Dot, and a portable speaker version, Amazon Tap is on the market. You can use both these systems to order your pizza for dinner or send a voice command to set an alarm clock. The Tap is under $130 while the Dot is less than $50. The full Echo system is listed at $179.99 on Amazon.
Google Home integrates nicely with NEST thermostats, smoke detectors, CO alarms and security cameras. With a simple command that starts with “OK Google,” users can also communicate with Chromecast products. You also have a Google assistant answer some of your most pressing questions such as knowing the speed of light. In time they expect to accompany the assistant when services are activated for local home grocery delivery, for instance.
When I was in Vegas I spent more time in the Smart Home sections of the CES, rather than lose money in the casinos. The technology was fantastic but I was more interested in applications that integrated all the systems from one device or app on a Smart Phone. Almost anything electronic can be implemented into the overall convenience of a Smart Home, even a toaster that has a Wi-fi or Bluetooth component.
Coldwell Banker has partnered with CNET to set a definition of a Smart Home. To start, the home must have reliable Internet service. To be considered a Smart Home, there must be connections to at least three of following home services: Lighting, safety, entertainment, appliances, HVAC, outdoors, security and temperature. Outdoors could include services such as landscape lighting, pool covers, pond systems or plant watering. The company continues to lead the country in new implementation and has put out a glossary of terms for Smart Homes.
I am a certified as a Smart Home agent by Coldwell Banker, and received training through our organization for selling homes with this technology. Coldwell Banker has been a leader in new technologies and have launched a Smart Home kit for staging homes. It is my belief that homes will sell for more and sell quicker by implementing these services. The staging kit is available to home sellers who use Coldwell Banker to sell their home. Announced in august of last year, the $999 kit consists of a Nest thermostat, Nest CO and smoke alarm, Nest indoor security camera, August connect, and Lutron wireless lighting starter kit. Home sellers can install the kit themselves or hire a professional for installation.
Vivint, a company with a strong Florida presence, also offers an integrated package for doorbell, lock, lighting and security under one app with no contract and one monthly fee. They will also customize a package when you call their professionals for a free quote. Packages start at $39.99 per month and include 24/7 monitoring. This includes free installation in Florida, up to $1,500 in free equipment and 24 hours of video storage for security. They even have a good special going on now and waving the start-up costs. Their nearest sales locations are in St. Petersburg and Tampa.
I did have a chance to wander around CES and look at other technologies that included a $10,000 toilet and a Samsung smart watch that will include the iPhone IOS operating system. Now, there's an interesting concept. I also was photographed with Raymond Teller, who legally changed his name to Teller and is one half of the Penn & Teller comedy duo. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 if you have a property to sell or buy.
Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing
It is that time of year when more events are scheduled and they seem to sell out quicker. With that in mind I present my annual pick of favorites for winter 2017 so you can begin reviewing your selections and start booking today. And if there is something that you know about, but don’t see, you can always look on our calendar of events where I express a wider variety and likely find it there. I am breaking them out by category of black tie benefit events, art festivals, plays, the finer arts and the best at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center.
Black tie affairs are charity events associated with a non-profit that benefits the community. A portion of the ticket costs and proceeds from silent auctions are donated. To start, former TODAY show co-host Ann Curry will give the keynote speech at a luncheon, February 10, at the Ritz-Carlton to benefit the Tidewell Hospice program. Two events are inspired by the French Riviera. The following day on Saturday the Orchid Ball benefiting Marie Selby Botanical Gardens will be held on the great lawn starting at 6 p.m. The une soirée en fleurs will provide a glimpse of their new exhibit The Color of Dreams. The annual gala to benefit the Asolo Repertory Theatre, La Fête de Monte Carlo, will be held March 4 at the Ritz-Carlton.
I support four organizations that help local children. They are the Sarasota Adopt-A-Family, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Suncoast, Forty Carrots and the Child Protection Center. Two of them have nice annual events that support their organizations. On April 1 the annual Firefly Gala at the Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club is a benefit for the Forty Carrots Family Center and features hip-hop artist Flo Rida from Miami. The Child Protection Center will hold its annual benefit on April 19 at Michael’s on East. A portion of the ticket price and a live auction at the Blue Ties and Butterflies affair will provide a good foundation of funds for the 2017 operating budget.
The Sarasota Winter Fine Art Festival this past weekend kicked off a series of festivals devoted to the arts. This Saturday Art Antiques will be on sale at the Municipal Auditorium downtown. The weekend of January 28-29 the Winter Art Festival will be held in St. Armands Circle, followed by the Winter Fine Art Festival on Lido Beach the first weekend in February. If you miss the winter fine art festivals you can connect with the Sarasota Spring Fine Art Festival on Gulfstream Avenue March 11-12 followed next month on April 8-9 by the Spring Fine Art Festival on Lido Beach. The Suncoast Blues Festival is January 27-28 at the Sarasota Fairgrounds. Campsites are available for overnighters.
There are plenty of quality plays in the area. The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe is now running its show The Piano Lesson, now through February 18. Girl Groups, the 60s Explosion, that runs from March 1 to April 8 was created by founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs with songs from the great female recording stars including The Shirelles, The Marvelettes, The Supremes and The Shangri-Las. I interviewed Nate in REALTALK #101. Also currently running but ending in January are the plays Stalking the Bogeyman at the Florida Studio Theatre, Little Shop of Horrors at the Manatee Performing Arts Center in Bradenton, Sweet Charity at The Players Centre for Performing Arts, and Moon Over the Brewery at the Players Theatre.
The performances that currently are on a longer run include Sister Act, based on the movie with Whoopi Goldberg, through runs February 5 at the Venice Theatre. The comedic play, Clever Little Lies, runs through March 4 at the Florida Studio Theatre and the play, The Great Society, is getting wonderful reviews. Running now through April 2 at the Asolo Repertory Theatre, this play follows the years of Lyndon Johnson during his White House years as President. There is a meet the actors night following the performance January 22. The Originalist starts Wednesday at the Asolo Repertory Theatre and follows the national discourse of thought that was created by the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The play runs through March 7 and stars Edward Gero as Justice Scalia.
The oldest continuing orchestra in the state of Florida, the Sarasota Orchestra continues its tradition of first-class live music and musical education. Its series of classical, pops and family concerts are under the new direction of Anu Tali who has considerable experience as a concert and opera conductor overseas. A close up conversation with Anu and musicians is sold out on January 31 at the Sarasota Yacht Club. In addition to the Masterworks and Pops series, the orchestra combines for over 100 performances a year and includes Chamber Soirees and Great Escapes.
The Masterworks 4 concerto, Tchaikovsky to Tüür, was composed for Anu and will be performed February 2-5. The Masterworks 5 concerto series, Estonian Voices, a chorus by the Grammy Award winning Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir will be featured February 23-26. Titan, in Masterworks 6 provides a rare opportunity to see a flugelhorn performance of Tchaikovsky variations by Sergei Nakariakov, from March 17-19. Everything seven is in the Magnificent Seven, Masterworks 7, March 31 through April 2, in which Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 builds to its magnificent climax. In each of the Masterworks series the first night performance will be held at the Neel Performing Arts Center at the State College of Florida in Bradenton but the following performances will be held at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
Andrew Lane, principal pops conductor leads a series of concerts and Saturday matinees including the first series January 20-21. This tribute to the Songs of Elton John and Others is performed by Grammy and Tony Award nominated piano man Michael Cavanaugh. The Leading Ladies of Broadway puts the spotlight on star Susan Egan. Other Broadway stars Liz Callaway and Deedee Magno Hall join Susan on stage for shows March 3-4 in the Pops 2 series. The Music of Sinatra April 21-22 in Pops 3 features Ol' Blue Eyes with movies and the silky voice of jazz vocalist Michael Andrew. Each Pops series at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall has one show on Friday and two shows on Saturday at 2:30 and 8 p.m. A special Outdoor Pops: Hits and Home Runs will have performances May 12-13 at 8 p.m. each day at Ed Smith Stadium.
Only special ticket seating is available for the annual Van Wezel Foundation Gala, this year starring comedic legends Steve Martin and Martin Short in tandem on stage with the Grammy award-winning Steep Canyon Rangers bluegrass band. Proceeds support its Schooltime Performance program. Other concerts at the Van Wezel this month include Zoltán Mága: From Budapest with Love, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra under the leadership of musical director Wynton Marsalis, and six incredible consecutive nights of music legends, January 27 through February 2 with a lineup of Kenny Rogers in his final tour, Gladys Knight, Johnny Mathis, National Symphony of Ukraine, Boz Scaggs, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons and finishes with Keith Lockhart & The Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra. Riverdance is in town January 24-25 and spend the night with comedian Billy Crystal January 26. The concert by Engelbert Humperdink scheduled for tonight was canceled due to sickness.
I hope your holiday today was a good one. I am still celebrating my successful year of record sales in 2016 with over $77 million in volume by listing seven new properties for sale last week, all on Longboat Key with ranges starting at $3.295 million to $479,000. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.
Six new members will be added to the Circus Ring of Fame
The circus comes alive this weekend on St. Armands Circle. This area was the heart of the circus when John Ringling made Sarasota its home at the beginning of the 20th century. Ringling made Sarasota his home and had Ca’ d’Zan built in the northern part of the county. Near his home on the shores of Sarasota Bay the Circus Museum was constructed. And the tradition continues, this Saturday the circus band will perform and six new inductees will be honored in the annual Circus Ring of Fame ceremony. Also fitting is that St. Armands Circle was part of the plan by Ringling to make this area a major tourist destination.
Daily visitors browse the circle of plaques that surround the park at its center. They represent each of the circus aerialists, trapeze artists, wire walkers, ad men, clowns and now even circus animals there that hold a place in the history of the circus. In all, this year’s class of inductees will join the previous 110 inductees that have been honored since its beginning in 1987. And the list is impressive.
This year famed aerialist Reggie Armor will be honored. He started his career with stunt work in films and joined the circus in 1951 at the age of 22. By the time he was 29 he became one of the most recognized trapeze flyers, known for perfecting the three-and-a-half acrobatic flight. He passed away in 2010 to be honored posthumously.
Dora Rogge performed her circus act with the famous Rogge Sisters in London, known to the world as Rogana, the Baroness of Balance. Her balancing act of end-to-end dagger and sword thrilled audiences in the late 1950s. In the next decade Dora broke away from the act to perform solo around the world and traveled with her husband, the famous ringmaster, Frank Foster, Jr. She will be inducted under her married name Dora Foster.
Co-owner of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus show from 1936-1967, Henry Ringling North, continued the circus his famous uncle created. Brother John Ringling North was inducted in 1988, the second year of existence for the Ring of Fame. Their mother was the sister of John Ringling, Ida Loraina Wihelmina Ringling, who married Harry Whitestone North. Henry was married to Gloria de la Feld and eventually became an Irish citizen. When the circus was sold to the Feld family, he remained as a consultant to the company. To this day Feld Entertainment maintains a massive warehouse and their worldwide headquarters just north of Bradenton in Palmetto.
Groups are eligible for induction, including the Pedrolas Troupe of five original members. Their shows included contortionists, high-wire acts and clowns. It is said that one of the founders, Rudolf Mootz, named the troupe Pedrolas for the first name Pedro, which he liked. Other original members included Willie and Peter Mootz, Gerda Meyer and Beppo Wallenda. Rudolf and Gerda married and had a daughter Dagmar, who joined the two as a wire walker at the age of five. After appearing overseas for years, the family combined with the Mills Brothers Circus in 1958.
A marketing and tour strategist for Ringling and Feld Entertainment, Allen Bloom, promoted the circus with advance posters in town designed to attract spectators to The Greatest Show on Earth by promoting the circus as a fun and family experience. He also modernized live event promotions for the entertainment and sports industries. He died at the age of 72 in 2008.
In order to propose a candidate for induction, there is a process but anyone can nominate “an individual or a group/act of two or more, may either be active or retired and living or deceased.” But animals are also considered stars by the Circus Ring of Fame Foundation and so the horse Starless Night will be inducted this year. This is the honor for an animal that was a circus horse and appeared in movies, but the committee also felt it was important to honor all the performing animals. Starless Night was trained and presented as a high school horse by Capt. Wiliam Heyer. A high school horse is known in dressage for its leaps from a standing position. Starless Night was seen in the parade of the movie, The Greatest Show on Earth.
Those are the inductees into the Circus Ring of Fame. There is a plaque of particular significance this year in St. Armands for the man who founded the Circus Ring of Fame, Larry Marthaler. It may be a somber occasion this year as he passed away in March of 2016. He envisioned the Ring of Fame in 1987 to promote our ties to the circus, while he was serving as a founding member of the Greater Sarasota Tourism Association, now Visit Sarasota County.
You can actually meet the inductees and their representatives on Friday at the Showfolks Club of Sarasota, 5204 North Lockwood Ridge Road. A meet-and-greet starts at 10 a.m. followed by entertainment provided by the Carousel Organ Association of America (COAA) and the Musical Box Society International (MBSI). Breakfast will be served and a flea market with circus memorabilia is planned.
The CPAA and MBSI performers will be on hand Saturday with their instruments on display, beginning in St. Armands Circle at 9 a.m. At 1:15 p.m. there will be an induction prelude by the Windjammers, presented by director Andrew Glover as the Sarasota Circus Band Concert. The plaque unveiling will begin as the induction ceremony starts at 2 p.m. All events are open to the public, including those at the Showfolks Club on Friday, which is rarely open to the public.
Three development areas that are in different phases
Three residential communities that could shape the Sarasota and Longboat Key landscape for years to come are in different stages of development. The Vue Sarasota Bay is near completion, The Quay Sarasota has received city approval and the Colony backers await approval from Longboat Key voters in March to move forward with their big plans on the island. If all are completed as they are drawn up, the area would see over 1,000 new residences in the area from these three communities.
The magnificent building at the corner of U.S 41 and Gulfstream in downtown Sarasota is near completion, 18 stories with 141 residences and 255-room Westin Hotel plus much more. Ground was broken for the Vue Sarasota Bay in September 2014 in an area that once was the location for a hotel and Denny’s restaurant. The Westin may become the latest hotspot for conventions with its number of rooms and nearly 14,000 square feet of meeting space. Add a spa, a couple junior ballrooms and proximity to fine dining and entertainment and you have an attractive meeting location. The Vue Sarasota Bay had been expected to have its doors open in Fall 2016, but now is expected to open in the spring of this year.
The Quay Sarasota is just north of the Vue Sarasota Bay on Tamiami Trail. In December developers received final city approval to begin its mega-project that will include up to 695 new residential units where Fruitville Road ends. But first a two-lane roundabout at the intersection must be constructed and a utility infrastructure is required to support the density of new residents. The historic Belle Haven Hotel will be at the center of the complex that could include up to nine 18-story buildings with 175 hotel rooms. Preliminary plans also call for nearly 200,000 square feet of retail space and office space of 39,000 square feet. Although a specific site plan has not been filed, the buildings will be constructed in phases, the first of which will be residences along the south end of the bayside waterfront.
The Quay has been years in planning, the land has been vacant. GreenPointe Communities of Jacksonville is spearheading the long-awaited project after acquiring the land in December of 2014 for $27 million. Developers then moved forward with their plan for a mixed-use complex of residential, entertainment, office and retail space. General site plans without specifics can move forward and will be submitted as each phase is placed on the drawing boards. The project will likely take years to complete and finish with a price tag over $1 billion.
Across the bay on Longboat Key, Orlando-based developer Chuck Whittall is planning a different $1 billion project in the old Colony Beach & Tennis Resort that he claims will be one of the best resorts in the United States. Whittall heads Unicorp National Developments, Inc. The original resort was opened in 1972 and closed in 2010 amidst lawsuits from property owners. The road for Whittall has shown its bumps including voter rejection of three referendums that would have increased population density on Longboat Key. In December Longboat Key commissioners granted another referendum to take place on March 14 that is specific to the 17.3 acre property at 1620 Gulf of Mexico Drive. The project calls for a potential density of 180 residences and 237 hotel rooms.
But there is much more planned for this property that will attract condominium buyers and tourists that may be willing to spend up to $1,000 per night for a hotel room and pay up to $10 million for a residence up to 5,000 square feet. The initial plans call for a 50,000 square foot saltwater pool that will be stocked with tropical fish and 20,000 square foot spa. Restaurants, tennis courts, ballroom and a tiki bar are also planned. When confronted with the idea that this project will create more traffic congestion, Whittall said he has plans for boat ferry service to the mainland, airport shuttles and a free trolley.
With Trulia releasing its hot real estate markets in the country, the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton area made the top ten on the list. Not surprising, half of the top ten areas were Florida cities. Trulia used a number of factors such as affordability, job growth and home searches to rate the cities in their poll. Last week I listed a lovely two-bedroom residence at Beachplace with peaceful lake and fountain views.
I ended 2016 with over $77 million of sold luxury real estate, it was the highest sold volume of my career. On this third day of the new year I have over $8.4 million in pending sales. Happy new year. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.
Best viewing spots for viewing sea cows in the winter
Manatees are magnificent animals that swim among us, all the while foraging for food. These mammals that live in the waters around Florida are gentle giants. Also known as sea cows, they share distinction in Florida with the dolphin as the state mammal symbols. The manatee is the state marine mammal and the dolphin is the state saltwater mammal. They love warm waters so observing them in the winter off Longboat Key is rare, they still can be seen in the wild.
One location for snowbirds to see them is at the Manatee Viewing Center established by Tampa Electric. Manatees in large numbers gather at the electrical plant outside the Big Bend Unit in Apollo Beach. A viewing center was created and nearly 5 million visitors have entered the gates for free to see these great creatures. It is designated as a manatee sanctuary by Florida and the U.S. governments. This year a new rays touch tank was added as a feature to the center that has exhibits to explain the sea cow habitats and other wildlife in the area. The center opens daily 10 am to 5 pm and closes for the season April 15. It is located off I-75 in Apollo Beach at 6990 Dickman Road.
Locally we have manatees that are known worldwide. Our own Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium on City Island has a Manatee Research Program in order to provide assistance to conservation programs in Florida and the Caribbean. The researchers study manatees around the world to gather data that is critical to the survival of this species. Two of the residents there, Hugh and Buffet, are the only manatees in the world trained to participate in research programs.
The 68-year-old Snooty in Bradenton’s South Florida Museum holds the honor as the mascot of Manatee County. He was placed in the Guinness Book of World Record, starting with the 2017 edition as the oldest manatee in captivity. He may be the oldest alive because manatees live longer in controlled environments such as the 60,000 gallon tank in the Parker Manatee Aquarium at the museum. Snooty has lived in captivity his entire life and would not survive in the wild, so he will continue to live with his loving caretakers. Other manatees have joined Snooty though in rehabilitation programs there.
In 1979 there were 1,000 manatees remaining in Florida. While in high school I established Save the Manatee Day, which I discussed in my REALTALK™ #87 video. That, combined with the efforts of many other informed residents, the manatees have recovered and 6,300 manatees are now reported. They are to be reclassified from endangered to threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The increased numbers and numbers of boaters though could reverse the trend of manatees making a full comeback. By December 12 of 2016 over 98 manatees have died in Florida, mostly the result of boat propellers striking them as they glided through the water. This was the highest reported number of accidental manatee deaths in a year here. A federal study concluded that manatees could face extinction if the number of deaths exceeded 12 per year.
Although these are accidental deaths, there are surface indications to observe the presence of a manatee or swarming group of manatees. Since their massive tails provide their movement you can visualize manatees underwater by large swirls at the surface. There have been studies that manatees can actually evade boat traffic, but even at higher boat speeds it literally becomes a race against time. It is therefore your obligation as a boater to avoid them when possible and obey the slow manatee zones that are posted in the waterways.
The animals are protected by two federal laws, the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and one state law, the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978. There are 12 rules outlined by the Fish and Wildlife Service contained in the laws. You should not approach, chase, corner or disturb manatees by touching them. Then that goes with the concepts that you should not dive or stand on a manatee. Do not stab at a manatee, or even poke them with your hand or feet. Separating a mother from her calf is also forbidden. Manatees are under protection of research teams so do not interfere with these activities or the tags they place on a manatee that are used to track them.
You might think that people pay heed to the warnings. Not so, two men were arrested in June 2014 after they posted a video on Facebook that showed them jumping on a manatee. In another Islamorada incident in the keys this year, a man challenged Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation officers after he was seen antagonizing a manatee in the canal. In 2012 a woman was photographed riding a manatee in Fort De Soto Park. All of them, and others willfully disobeying the law, received heavy fines. Jail time was also ordered in some of the cases.
Despite the fact that they eat up to 10 percent of their weight a day eating aquatic plants, it is unlawful to feed them or to give them fresh water despite the fact they seem to enjoy both. I think it is fair to say that disturbing manatees in the wild by any means is unlawful.
You can still swim with them though in one Florida location. Citrus County was grandfathered in by the 1970 legislations as manatee tours made up a significant amount of tourism dollars there. Book a tour through the few operators on Crystal River to legally get up close and personal to a manatee. Homossassa Springs is another good location. And since manatees are seeking warmer waters in the winter, November to April are the best touring times on the river and in the springs.
Hope your holidays have been great for you and that you may have had the chance to view the manatees at the locations above. You may also consider a move to Longboat Key or a change of location here. I am pleased to announce another record breaking year for me. In 2016 I closed on over $77 million in sales volume. Last week I listed two new properties for sale. The first at 438 Partridge Circle is a custom-built luxury waterfront home built in 2004 on Bird Key. The second in Country Club Shores is ideal for the boating enthusiast at 512 Hornblower Lane. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.
Its location and service to customers earn high marks
With the beautiful waters surrounding Sarasota and Longboat Key, there are many marinas to service and moor the thousands of boats here that are enjoyed by the residents. There is a huge marina on Longboat Key operated through the Longboat Key Club. On the mainland there is the marina that is no less famous, Marina Jack. The services are there at both to cater to the boaters, and at the end of the day you can have a fine dinner or discuss your day trip in one of the bars.
Marina Jack has one of the best locations in Sarasota. Downtown is literally across the street, which provides access to many of the venues for fine dining and the cultural arts that Sarasota is so famous for. Most locations are within a half mile of the marina and if you prefer to venture elsewhere close you can arrange for the shuttle service from Marina Jack.
But you don’t have to leave the marina for fine dining. On the second deck, the main dining room serves exceptionally prepared steaks, seafood and pasta. The wine list has been mentioned in Wine Spectator magazine and the sunset vistas are spectacular. The Blue Sunshine Patio and the Deep Six Lounge also provide fine dining services. Nightly there is a piano serenade in the Deep Six Lounge.
Super yacht owners have docking facilities, the most current is in the marina and is over 200 feet in length. The basin has a depth of 8 feet which may be of concern for large sailing yachts with fixed keels. There are 316 boat slips in total. Professionals who work on maintaining and repairing the boats are highly skilled for work on power or sailing boats. Fueling docks are also available. If you are interested in buying a boat attend the Suncoast Boat Show at the marina, the next one is scheduled in April of 2017.
If you don’t have a boat or just want someone else to captain, consider the 96-foot Marina Jack II. Luncheon and dinner cruises show the sights of Sarasota from the intra-coastal waterway and some of Longboat Key when the boat ventures into the Gulf of Mexico. The tour is narrated and you can select an open-air or air-conditioned salon for sightseeing.
The name is Marina Jack, but it is doubtful that locals will correct you if you say Marina Jack’s. The latter may be the possessive name but an employee there named Bill told me it may be something as simple as the website MarinaJack.com was already registered. So the name Marina Jack’s also stuck. The website MarinaJack.com is for sale so some cyber-squatter may be sitting on the domain name. As the saying goes, they don’t care what you call it, just call it.
Someone has been calling it. Marina Dock Age magazine cited this location for its continuous investment, attention to customer service and partnership with the city of Sarasota to select Marina Jack as Marina of the Year in 2015. Selected in the large marina category, it was the first time in 47 years since Jack Graham purchased a Sarasota pier and turned it into one of the best marinas in the country.
A company named Suntex has also been calling Marina Jack. In September of this year Suntex Marina Investors LLC merged with the holding companies that oversee the operations of Marina Jack and a few repair facilities and local restaurants such as the Tiki Bar next door.
How does Marina Jack compare with the Marina and Moorings of the Longboat Key Club? Both are in perfect locations, serving different geographical markets. Although membership in the Longboat Key Club is an exceptional value, it is not required for a boat slip. This marina is located near the Grand Bay community and is behind the Bay Isles manned guard gates for more security. The Portofino Ristorante & Bar serving northern Italian cuisine is on location, and Longboat Key Club members have access to seven other Longboat Key restaurants. Considered one of the areas safest harbors, there are 291 docks with slips up to 150 feet in length. The marina is full service with maintenance, repairs, utilities, WiFi and pump out stations. There is a heated swimming pool, poolside lounge and tennis court in the Longboat Key marina village.
I have a new name for my Monday articles. Many times on Monday I can expand on my short REALTALK™ videos published each Thursday, and provide additional information on the topic. It only makes sense that the two names reflect the brand so this is the first week for REALTALKplus™.
Last week on REALTALK™ in episode #111 I provided a recap of the local real estate market and provided some insight into which communities did well in 2016. I also announced that I will finish the year with a volume of sales just under $80 million to break another personal record. I look forward to 2017 and announced two more listings last week. Looking for new construction on the Gulf of Mexico beach? My new listing at 6855 Gulf of Mexico Drive is right on the beach and has just been completed with five bedrooms and heated swimming pool. Also on the beach is my new listing at 4805 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #A102 in the Westchester community. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.
Roger Pettingell of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate is your Longboat Key, Florida Luxury Real Estate Specialist. Roger provides his real estate expertise to sellers, investors, developers, and buyers in the Sarasota area including Anna Maria, Bird Key, Bradenton Beach, Casey Key, Cortez, Grand Bay, Holmes Beach, Longboat Key, Marina Bay, Osprey and Siesta Key. Search for homes, luxury homes, condominiums, investment property, development property, and vacant land and lots on the Longboat Key, Florida and the surrounding area.