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Annual winter events preview

by Roger Pettingell

Winter events preview for 2017

Arts, festivals, plays and black tie events

Aerial view of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center
Aerial view of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center

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.

REALTALK interview with Nate Jacobs of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe
Interview with Artistic Director Nate Jacobs of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe.

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.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
1281 Gulf of Mexico Drive $3,295,000 Video Photo Slideshow
638 Bayview Drive $2,595,000 Video Photo Slideshow
7100 Longboat Drive East $1,695,000 Video Photo Slideshow
3261 Bayou Sound $1,395,000   Photo Slideshow
1965 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #401/403 $1,100,000   Photo Slideshow
604 Buttonwood Dr $599,000   Photo Slideshow
5841 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #245 $479,000   Photo Slideshow


Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing


Annual Circus Ring of Fame this Saturday

by Roger Pettingell

Promoted as Sarasota's ties to the circus

Six new members will be added to the Circus Ring of Fame

Circus Ring of Fame in St. Armands Circle
Circus Ring of Fame - Two days of celebration for the circus and its performers starting on Friday.

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.

Update on three new community developments

by Roger Pettingell

Major complexes shaping the landscape

Three development areas that are in different phases

Vue Sarasota Bay
Vue Sarasota Bay - The residences and hotel rooms are near completion at the intersection of Tamiami Trail and Gulfstream, expected to open in the spring.

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.

Quay sarasota
Artist rendering of The Quay Sarasota that will add up to 695 residences when finished.

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.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
1105 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #103 $629,000   Photo Slideshow


Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing


Let's cheer for the manatees during the holidays

by Roger Pettingell

Magnificent manatees, the gentle giants

Best viewing spots for viewing sea cows in the winter

Manatees in the intracoastal REALTALK #87

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.

Aerial view of Marina Jack
This female manatee was seen among swimmers in the waters off Anna Maria Island last year.

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.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
438 Partridge Circle $2,395,000 Video Photo Slideshow
512 Hornblower Lane $1,079,000   Photo Slideshow


Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing


Two marinas that serve boats to super yachts

by Roger Pettingell

Marina Jack, full service and award winning

Its location and service to customers earn high marks

Marina Jack in downtown Sarasota

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.

Aerial view of Marina Jack
An aerial view of Marina Jack show some of the 316 docks, main building and Sarasota skyline.

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 was already registered. So the name Marina Jack’s also stuck. The website 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.

Marina and Moorings of the Longboat Key Club
Serving Longboat Key - Considered a safe harbor from storms, the Marina and Moorings of the Longboat Key Club provides many services. This view is from a listing at Grand Bay, click on the image for details.

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.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
6855 Gulf of Mexico Dr $4,595,000   Photo Slideshow
4805 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #A102 $539,000   Photo Slideshow


Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing


What to expect at the listing appointment

by Roger Pettingell

A little preparation increases sale efficiency

December is a good month to market your home for sale

1117 Benjamin Franklin Drive, #A
This beach home on Lido Key is a new listing from a recent listing appointment.

December is a good month to list your home for sale in Sarasota. This may be different in the north when a springtime listing may take advantage of the upcoming good weather. And if you have listed a home up north you may find that the listing process may be a little different than what is expected here. In REALTALK™ #110 last week I discussed what I would look for in your home before we talk about placing it on the market.

Before the appointment I start with a little homework. I look at recent sales that indicate the current market of similar homes. But at that point I still don’t know the fair market value of your home until I get inside. Then I look for upgrades that will increase the value of the home. Home buyers tend to be more encouraged by an updated home.

I also want to know the condition of the home. Are there any cracks in the ceilings? Are there any maintenance issues that can be remedied for a quicker sale. I pay particular attention to the areas around vents where mold may accumulate. Some of these items may come up in the inspection after a sales contract is signed, but we prefer to know in advance so we can correct the problem and close more efficiently.

Our staff is ready to help in any way and can suggest the right specialist for each repair job. We have contact information for what we have found to be the best painters, plumbers, electricians, flooring installers and home cleaners. You may have your own handyman in these areas. If staging is an issue we can make recommendations there. If clutter is an issue we can suggest volunteer organizations that will remove furniture and give you an receipt for tax deductions.

Expectations for the listing appointment in REALTALK™ #110
REALTALK™ #110 - We discuss the listing process and what to expect at the appointment.

Once we have determined conditions that may need improved or any updates that have already been done we can review price. We want to settle on a price that is fair in the market but something that you would feel comfortable with. If you have a mortgage, will the price be sufficient to settle with the bank and hopefully have a good profit remaining. Most home sellers do their own research beforehand. Zillow is a popular website that gives Zestimates. However, these estimates do not take into consideration the condition of the home or any updates that increases its value. The comparable home sales tools that I have are likely to be more accurate. Contact our office and we can set you up with free emails that will show price adjustments and new home sales in your area.

Here is a good reference to use if you are planning to do any remodeling projects before you speak with an agent. It is the 2016 Cost v. value report for the Sarasota area, published annually by Remodeling magazine. This report compares 30 different remodeling projects and how they affect the value of your home. With this report you can compare the Sarasota area to other areas of the southeast region and the nation. For instance, fiberglass attic insulation can have a 150.9% return on investment in Sarasota. A garage door replacement can have a return of 103.1% when you price the home for the market.

After we feel comfortable with the price, then we can establish an action plan for marketing your home. I have Coldwell Banker to thank for providing me with many print and online opportunities that we use to the fullest. I promote homes through my website here and a personal website for each home with the Internet address based on the physical address of the home. My full-page weekly ads in the Longboat Key Observer is a print medium I use. We also use direct mail to market your home.

There is a list of documents that I request so they are readily available for any interested buyers. I feel this is important so that we are able to answer any questions while the buyers are excited about the home after a showing. Also in the REALTALK™ video I explain the need for these documents and cited insurance premiums as an example. I use these for the printed brochure that we provide at each showing. We copy and create digital documents in PDF format before returning them to you. Our service can convert most sizes, including large floor plans. Here is a list of documents that are useful:

  • Insurance papers
  • Survey
  • Title insurance policy
  • Floor plan
  • Site plan

Age, warranties and make of appliances:

  • Refrigerator
  • Dishwasher
  • Oven
  • Microwave
  • Hot Water Heater
  • Air Conditioner

You can expect that I will request a copy of the home key, elevator code or security code. Some agents use lockboxes. Since we accompany our showings, we add a layer of security by keeping these keys locked in our office until the time of the showing. We can make copies if the keys you possess are your only set.

I will also want to know the financial condition of the home. If the home is in a trust or owned by an LLC, with this information I will be in a position to better discuss an offer with a buyer’s agent. Any equity in the home is good if there is a mortgage on the home.

I do like listing appointments and hope that you contact my office when you are ready to sell. This home at 1117 Benjamin Franklin Drive, #A is across the street from the Gulf of Mexico beach on Lido Key and is a new listing last week. The home is listed at $1,299,000 and has plenty of wonderful updates. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
1117 Benjamin Franklin Drive, #A $1,299,000 Video Photo Slideshow


Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing


Sleepy Lagoon community spotlight

by Roger Pettingell

Private Longboat Key neighborhood

Community of homes on both sides of Gulf of Mexico Drive

536 Lyons Lane
Lyons Lane - This home on Lyons Lane has wooded areas and a canal within steps of the back door.

Cozy, private, secluded: three words to describe the community of Sleepy Lagoon near the north end of Longboat Key around the 10 mile mark from the south. Boating enthusiasts will enjoy the bay side homes as finger canals line practically every street. Gulf-side homeowners have the Gulf of Mexico beaches to enjoy. Nearly all of the 269 homes in Sleepy Lagoon are surrounded by mature landscaping and trees that provide more privacy to the residents in Sleepy Lagoon. All owners have a private deeded beach access. Carve out plenty of time for tennis, golf, fishing or just relaxing that comes with a Sleepy Lagoon lifestyle.

This is a close-knit community. The $25 annual HOA dues is invested in welcome-back parties and other social gatherings. Drive north over the Longboat Pass bridge and Coquina Beach greets you on the left. This stretch of sand in the park is a favorite for locals, and a fresh food market on Sundays. Artisans peddle their wares and musicians entertain on the walkway where the tents are arranged. A little further north and you enter the lively Bradenton Beach business district. Nearly all of Longboat Key is at your disposal to the south.

Homes are a mixture of style, age and price. Take for instance a home I recently have listed at 712 Marbury Lane, originally built in 1978 and has been completely remodeled. The three-bedroom, two-bath home on the canal has a split bedroom plan for guest privacy. A 10,000-pound boat lift is situated on the seawall and the home has a two-car garage with an additional workspace.

712 Marbury Lane
This 3BR/2BA new listing at 712 Marbury Lane built in 1978 has been completely remodeled.

A home I have listed at 536 Lyons Lane for $699,000 built in 1989 has a heated swimming pool and screen enclosure, 10,000-pound boat lift and one-car garage. This home has two bedrooms and also has a split-bedroom plan.

In the last 12 months eleven homes sold for an average price of slightly more than $1.4 million, the most expensive home on the Gulf side that sold for $4.3 million. A home at 649 Norton Street on the bay side sold for $453,000 and was the least expensive home last year in Sleepy Lagoon.

Last week I listed two properties on Longboat Key, one is a stunning penthouse with Gulf-to-bay views at the Promenade. The panoramic ninth-floor views from the residence at 3030 Grand Bay Blvd, #392 are breathtaking. The wraparound terrace with a Biscayne floor plan overlooks the Harbourside golf course and Sarasota Bay. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
1211 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #904 $1,289,000 Video Photo Slideshow
3030 Grand Bay Blvd, #392 $1,199,000   Photo Slideshow


Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing


Current technology for real estate sales

by Roger Pettingell

Staying current and moving forward

Using technology to market homes and track closings

REALTALK #106, Sharpening the Sword
Sharpening the Sword - How I stay ahead of the curve in real estate technology, REALTALK™ #106.

Cyber Monday is a good day to review current technology that I use to market my listings and communicate with my clients. I also use technology to share information among the staff and to track the progress necessary for each client to close on their homes in the most efficient manner. With this technology we nurture new and potential clients so that their needs are also met. The technology in our office is a variety of software and hardware that is either “off the shelf” for realtors, or customized from leading vendors.

Most of my customers are home sellers. To start, each listing has its own website. The address is commonly associated with the physical address such as one listed last week at A community like the Players Club at 1445 Gulf of Mexico Drive on Longboat key will be promoted by its community and residence number, such as I like using this form of Internet promotion because I can put more information on the site that I may not be able to include in the MLS system or that which appears on and I can include more documents that are commonly requested by potential buyers. It also is a great format to communicate with the search engines. We can input details in the Internet syntax, or metatags, for search engine optimization. These websites are syndicated to over 40 Internet portals commonly associated with real estate sales.

I promote each home sale as a featured listing on this branded website, In order to stay current with the requirements of the Internet giants like we are switching to a responsive design on our site that should be ready for launch early in December. Currently, we are optimized for mobile devices that presents a different experience on SmartPhones. The new design will respond to each device and present the best experience for an end user searching for property to buy. Google has announced they will favor this type of technology in their search results.

Longboat Key Home Prices
Home sellers begin their pricing research on Longboat Key and Sarasota through this free website.

That is my branded site to promote the homes I am currently selling. I recognize that most potential buyers and sellers begin gathering information on home sales through Internet sites, long before they make their first call to an agent to represent them. is my website that is established for sellers to get an estimate of their property’s value, and list comparable homes in the area. With an email address, the seller will receive updates on their home if the value should increase or decrease. For buyers exploring the waters, so to speak, my website is a good way to research home prices. By entering an email address the buyer will receive updates on new properties that open up on the market. Both of these websites are free to use.

We are also fortunate that our information for each listing is updated through the Coldwell Banker systems. In October there were 8.1 million visitors to with 12.6 million listing views. A majority of worldwide visitors were from the United States and Canada, our prime market targets. We continually feed videos, photos and descriptions to the Coldwell Banker telephone connection. An 866.600.6008 number advertised in local newspapers such as the Sarasota Herald Tribune connects a code in our listings advertised on that page to information about that property. Those listings are pulled from another system that we actively update with high resolution images, property descriptions and open house dates. All these feeds spread the word. The intent is to get quality information and photos in front of many people in our target audience.

A new technology we started this year gives the buyer a view of the property in three dimensions. These 3D floor plans are digitized in a way that the potential buyer can walk through a home as a virtual presentation. You have a choice of doll house or floor plan view to begin your navigation through the home. The photographer takes a 360 degree image of each room that is stitched together with software so that you can walk through the home as though actually being there. What I like about this system is that a visitor can master the techniques in just a few minutes. The Matterport system can be seen in this Bird Key home at

Matterport 3D floor plans for this home at 670 Mourning Dove Drive on Bird Key
3 Dimensional Floor Plans - I recently introduced this new technology as a virtual tour, website visitors walk through the homes I list for sale.

Our office has internal systems to track phone calls and processes for the efficient closing of all home sales. We store documents in digital format and have the ability to have digital signatures on contracts to avoid the lengthy paper flow. This Docusign system permits us to have legally signed documents between buyers and sellers even though they are great distances apart. Our system for escrow deposits is more secure than many systems that I have been involved with. Our office tracks each closing for a smooth transaction, from the home inspection to the closing at the title or law firm office.

I hope your Thanksgiving holiday was a good one. I listed a secluded waterfront home last week in the Sleepy Lagoon community of Longboat Key. This elevated home has three bedrooms, is on a deep-water canal with boat dockage and 10,000-pound lift. The home at 712 Marbury Lane has a two-car garage has been completely remodeled. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
712 Marbury Lane $729,000   Photo Slideshow


Community spotlight on Seaplace

by Roger Pettingell

Good value on the beach at Seaplace

Variety of floor plans among 11 buildings on the Gulf

Beach Access at Seaplace
Gulf of Mexico - Residents walk to the beach from their Seaplace properties for sunset gazing.

There is good value in Sarasota properties on barrier islands along the Gulf of Mexico coast. You can find some of the best values at Seaplace on Longboat Key, an amenity-filled community of 461 residences on 42 acres. They are at such a good value that 24 of these units sold in the last 12 months, an average of two per month with an average sale price of nearly $478,000. These properties in 11 buildings offer variety as well, a selection of town-houses on the north end of the community, and more residences among two mid-rise buildings and seven garden buildings. There is something for everyone in lifestyle, convenience and recreation at Seaplace.

Take, for instance, the convenience of shopping with a Publix supermarket and CVS pharmacy near the northern exit of Seaplace. A variety of restaurants are in the same shopping complex or within a close proximity. Shopping in the boutique stores or dining in the fine restaurants on St. Armands Circle is another convenience for Seaplace homeowners. The cultural arts of Sarasota is just a short drive over the Ringling Bridge. There you can take in a play, schedule to see world-class performances at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall or go to the opera and ballet. Many of these shows are available within blocks of each other in downtown Sarasota.

As for recreation you have plenty of choices. Within the community are two heated swimming pools and three Har-Tru tennis courts. There is a his and hers fitness center. With a Longboat Key Club membership you will have access to two of the best championship golf courses, conveniently located just north and the other south on Longboat Key. Community amenities include a recently updated clubhouse, game room and library. Bike riding is popular on the expanded width of Gulf of Mexico Drive. Or you can choose to walk on one of the many paths that connect to parks on the island.

Heated swimming pool at Seaplace
Seaplace amenities - There are many amenities at Seaplace including heated swimming pools.

Seaplace is a place to gather with friends or make new relationships. Social gatherings are listed on their website. Water aerobics are scheduled Monday through Friday and alternate between the Funplace and Clubhouse pools. The computer club meets on Mondays, but two of the club members have volunteered to be on call seven days a week to help solve some of those nagging computer problems. Groups gather ad hoc on game day to play a variety of card games. Pickleball is also a common recreation. Movie night is every Tuesday, and cooking recipes are shared among the owners.

Construction of Seaplace properties began in 1974, and by 1979 these homes were completed for residential occupancy. Many of these units have been upgraded since them with modern conveniences. The two or three-bedroom residences have also been kept up to date with building updates for better protection from storms. Some owners enjoy the convenience of leasing their unit. Seaplace is less restrictive in their lease policy, a residence can be rented for a minimum of two months provided that it is residential use. Owners list their units through popular rental websites or through

Owners have access to on-site management during business hours. For security, there is a manned guard gate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Longboat Key is ranked among the top five safest places to live in Florida. used 2014 FBI crime statistics to rank Longboat Key as fourth safest among Florida cities of 5,000 residents or more. Criminals are on notice. Longboat Key has a north and south entrance through its main thoroughfare, Gulf of Mexico Drive. At these two points police constantly monitor license plates with video identification alerts and flag cars that have been identified as used in a crime.

Penthouse Seaplace sale
One of my two Seaplace sales within the last year, a penthouse overlooking the landscape and the Gulf.

Seaplace is a great place to relax and wonderful location to watch sunsets with your toes in the white sand beach. In the past year I have sold two top-floor properties at Seaplace for an average sale of $599 per square foot. During this period the average price per square foot was $388. This week I updated the Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) reports for November at Seaplace. This report has current active, pending and sold listings within the last year. These monthly reports for this community record a comparison history of sold properties back to January of 2008.

Last week I added two more listings to my inventory. On Lido Key within a short walk to St. Armands Circle I have a new listing at 66 N. Washington Drive. The views of the Ringling Bridge and Sarasota skyline are mesmerizing. This luxury estate has a deep-water dock, heated swimming pool and spa. The second waterfront estate listed last week at 670 Mourning Dove Drive also has dockage and pool. I submitted a 3-Dimensional floor plan for this home. I would encourage anyone looking for a luxury estate to schedule a showing for this home on Bird Key. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Address List Price Media Slideshow
66 North Washington Drive $4,930,000 Video Photo Slideshow
670 Mourning Dove Drive $2,999,000 Video Photo Slideshow


Historic Sarasota Municipal Auditorium

by Roger Pettingell

Iconic Sarasota landmark has its history

Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places

Municipal Auditorium on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places
Sarasota Municipal Auditorium - Completed in 1938, in 1995 was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places for its significance to the community.

There were many events over the past weekend and hope you were able to enjoy some of them and the wonderful weather. The Siesta Key Crystal Classic master sand sculpting competition, the Chalk Festival and its associated surrounding events in Venice, and the St. Armands Circle Fall Art Festival were among the few. You may have also seen the Bowls USA 2016 US Open. If you stopped to see the lawn bowling competition you likely parked in the lot of the Municipal Auditorium, where the Vintage Collectibles Fair was going on. The auditorium is as famous as Sarasota itself and listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It’s also a favorite image to send as a postcard, along with the statue Unconditional Surrender.

Land for the building was acquired by the city in 1935 following a default on taxes owed to Sarasota. Local civic leaders and then Sarasota Mayor E.A. Smith requested federal funds from the Works Progress Administration, renamed Work Projects Administration that year. The WPA was one of several civic programs begun under the New Deal initiative of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. On the 37 acres of acquired land a grand municipal building was to be constructed. When completed the auditorium floor had 10,000 square feet for use as an exhibition and dance hall. The stage was large at 1,500 square feet. Glass blocks on the front provided natural lighting to the interior of the auditorium. The barrel styled roof gave it a unique look and added to the spacious grandeur of the interior.

Sarasota Municipal Auditorium interior
The floor is 10,000 square feet with a 1,500 square-foot stage and filled with visitors this past weekend.

By February 1938 the Municipal Auditorium was completed and opened with a grand celebration of three thousand spectators. Through private donations a recreation club was built on the western end of the building. Soon after tennis and shuffleboard courts were added and lawn bowling brought some more prestige to the area through the Sarasota Lawn Bowling Club, one of three original clubs that are still in existence to this day. The SLBC started in 1927 in McAnsh Park but moved to the recreational facilities here upon completion of the auditorium. This group hosts the US Open. The Garden Club and Memorial Auditorium have historic designations as the other long-standing tenants.

During the years of World War II the auditorium was a respite hall for the Army and Navy Club. Following the war, concerts were held by the Florida West Coast Symphony until 1969 when the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall was completed. The symphony later changed its name to the Sarasota Orchestra in 2008, but continues to be recognized as the longest continuous performing orchestra in Florida.

Renovations in 1970s drastically changed the look of the auditorium, replacing the historic look with a modern design. Even the glass blocks on the front of the building were covered. In the next decade efforts were made to restore the building to its original design and a push for national recognition was started. However, it wasn’t until the mid 1990s when private donations, along with government preservation societies and the city of Sarasota provided enough funds to restore the original building. The building achieved recognition on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995 and the restoration work was completed in 1997.

Hazzard Fountain
Hazzard Fountain - Artisans constructed this famed fountain on 1940. Over the years it has been moved, removed, stored and eventually returned during restoration in 1995. The marquee sign alerts visitors of the Collectibles Fair November 11-13.

The famed fountain out front that was constructed in 1940 had also seen its share of changes over the years. An original donation to the city, the lighted Hazzard Fountain was designed by the son of the architect who drew up the original plans for the auditorium. The father, Thomas Martin, and son Frank are etched into the history of this Sarasota landmark. The fountain had also its share of controversy in the history of the auditorium. It had been moved a couple times to accommodate widening of Tamiami Trail, and then removed around the time that the auditorium was modernized in the 1990s. The Hazzard Fountain was placed in storage for a period of time and also served as the entrance to the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. During the restoration of the auditorium in the mid-1990s the Hazzard Fountain made its way back to the grounds of the auditorium in 1995.

Today the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium continues to fulfill its original intent. On most weekends visitors enjoy the collectibles fairs, stamps or exotic gem shows. As a continuation of the US Open this week, there will be a health and wellness expo this weekend. The Gem, Jewelry and Bead show will go on the weekend of December 2. An annual favorite, the Atomic Holiday Bazaar will be held the weekend of December 10. It is touted as the fair of crafts and arts for the world’s delightful irregulars. If you are into Art Antiques, the show on January 19 would be well worth attending. The National Stamp Exhibition is set for February 3. What Women Want, Lifestyle & Wellness Expo is scheduled for the weekend of April 1.

The architecture, history and significance to the city of Sarasota were some of the factors cited for its placement on the national register. But a major influence was the community’s involvement in the restoration of the auditorium. As it sits today is almost as it was when originally completed in 1938 for public and recreational use.

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  • Over 33 years as a top producing REALTOR® on Longboat Key and in Sarasota.
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  • Number 1 Realtor on Longboat Key and Bird Key for 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016
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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.