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Local college excels in the arts

by Roger Pettingell

Ringling College of Art & Design

Three new state-of-the-art facilities this year set higher standards

Barbara Basch Visual Arts Center
Barbara Basch Visual Arts Center - Students will receive instruction and work alongside professional artists when completed this year.

Within a couple mile stretch on US 41 near the airport is a series of higher education schools, at least one is nationally recognized for their programs in the arts. The Florida State University in Sarasota has long established itself on the Ringling Museum grounds with its FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training curriculum. Another college in that strip is making an emergence as one of the best schools for training professional artists, and is solidifying its progress with state-of-the-art classrooms. Within the year the Ringling College of Art & Design will complete its series of additional classrooms and production studios.

The Alfred R. Goldstein Library opened in January with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that marked a historic date in the school’s timeline of events. The unusual design of this 46,000 square foot facility allows students to interact with each other for lively discussions. As any library should, there are many spaces in the building where students can study independently in quiet settings with over 65,000 books and periodicals at their disposal. Students also have access to audio, movies and even digital games.

Ann and Alfred Goldstein Center
Ann and Alfred Goldstein have contributed to the growth of the school with large donations over the years and have three buildings named for them.

The philanthropic Goldsteins have contributed to the school with many donations over the years. Ann and Alfred Goldstein donated over $1 million in 2005 for the express purpose of creating a curriculum that included business art classes of accounting, management and marketing. The Ann and Alfred Goldstein Center was named in their honor. The retired Realtor from New York contributed to schools in that state and Sarasota programs including one at Mote Marine and Laboratory. The library was the third building on campus named for the couple, as was the Ann & Alfred Goldstein Hall with rental apartments available to students. The 93-year-old Alfred attended the opening ceremony of the library.

A stunning building of sleek design is the Richard & Barbara Basch Visual Arts Center, nearing completion on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Way. Set to open this spring, visitors will be able to view students working on projects in printmaking, photography, woodworking, sculpture and digital fabrication. The Visual Arts Center will be home to one of the campus galleries that display the work of students as professional artists.

Sound Stage & Post Production Facility
Sound Stage & Post Production Facility - The 30,000 square foot studio is expected to open this summer.

Set to open this summer is an amazing complex that is to be one of the most advanced production facilities, where students will collaborate with professional film makers and musicians. This is a cooperative adventure between the school and a private company, Semkhor Network, Inc. and its development and production division, Semkhor Productions. In the agreement, the college will lease the land to Semkhor which will build the studio with a combination of its own money and a county economic development grant.

The Sound Stage & Post Production Facility in construction is next to the wonderful setting of Martin Luther King Park on Cocoanut Boulevard. The complex will be an array of stages, post production work areas, dubbing bays, editing suites, a private screening room and sound stage for sound effects, or Foley stage. A Foley stage is used to dub in everyday sounds in the film production process. There will be eight sound stages in 25,000 square feet of the total 30,000 square-foot space, one of which is leased to Ringling College for a 20-year period, then turned over to the college for ownership.

The Ringling College of Art and Design was started in 1931 as a remote branch of Southern College in Orlando. The institution qualified to issue degrees with its accreditation in 1979 by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and in 1984 received accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Art. It has grown as a private institution with an enrollment of 1,300 from over 40 states and countries. Before graduation each student has the opportunity to work on at least one professional project. There is more about the Ringling School of Art & Design and other area colleges in this September 2016 REALTALKplus™ article.

Ringling College President, Larry R. Thompson, is hoping these new facilities will continue to set higher standards for film and art education in order to stay ahead of some of the finest schools in the United States such as Florida State University and New York University. They’ve already set the standard high to help Sarasota remain as one of the top cultural arts cities in the nation.

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


The current process for home loans

by Roger Pettingell

Allow extra time for mortgage process

Home buyer considerations before the purchase offer is made

REALTALK™ #121 on mortgage challenges
Mortgage challenges - I compare cash with home loan offers last week in REALTALK™ #121.

I explain in my REALTALK™ #121 video last week why cash is preferable in making an offer on a house. There are a few reasons why that is true and I explain in summary why obtaining a home loan today is more challenging compared to the days where no-doc mortgages were prevalent in the years leading up to the housing bust in 2008. Since then legislation reformed the loan industry when it was enacted as the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010.

The consumer credit process for home loans needed a change to avoid another housing disaster like the one that was created where 8 million homes were foreclosed upon. Under this new legislation predatory practices were reduced. Banks have less options for preparing loans that put an undue stress on the home buyer. These loans were advertised in ways that seemed very attractive but eventually would be the cause of many foreclosures.

Two fundamental principles were altered that would challenge even those with good credit to obtain home loans. The first was an increase in the credit rating an applicant is now required to have in order to receive loan approval. Whether a financial institution uses the FICO score or another form of credit rating, the applicant’s perceived ability to repay the loan is a much bigger part of the process. The second is the documentation required for a loan today, as I outline in the steps below.

The first step is a prequalification, used as an initial indicator, and then the pre-approval process. Although the prequalification is a basic step to get an idea as to how much a lender is willing to loan you, it requires little documentation. It may mean nothing to the buyer if you submit a prequalification letter to the seller’s agent with an offer, so many people don’t bother with prequalification. The pre-approval process will have some meaning since you have gone through the beginning of the home loan process and are approved for the home loan amount. Possibly you have even locked in an interest rate with the bank. Since your ability to repay has been tested, you have a reasonable expectation to continue income, and your debt levels are low, the next stage of the process becomes easier.

Since pre-approval is typically before the offer is made, the next stage begins when the offer is accepted by the seller. The full application is made at that point. The documents needed for pre-approval will need to be updated, especially if they are older than 90 days.

The application is submitted to the processing department of the financial institution. If everyone has done their diligence this may be a smooth process. If steps are missed in the application, the processing department may require additional documents to proceed with the loan. If both Realtors have properly advised their seller and buyer of the property fair market value, an appraisal is only a necessary formality. A bank is not interested in providing a loan that is far higher than the property value. In that way the bank protects its investment and in a foreclosure can recover its money through the sale of the home. There may be other documentation required such as HOA rules and regulations.

Once a satisfactory commitment is achieved by processing, underwriting will look for any potential fraud and review the submitted documentation. They will also review the fair market value of the property from the appraisal before the loan is cleared to close and a closing date is set or confirmed.

Underwriting must also review the loan so that it complies with Federal rules. In order to be insured by the Federal Housing Administration the bank must demonstrate that loan meets minimum guidelines for down payment and the credit of the borrower is in good standing.

In 2016 the FHA refined its rules to make the process more transparent to the borrower. Banks are now required to disclose all costs associated with the loan within three days of the application. This extends the review and rescission period for the consumer. A governmental online resource site was created that simplifies the loan payment schedule and has a tool to compare rates from different institutions in your area. Within three days of closing the lending institution is required to confirm its original costs and terms so the consumer is not faced with this review at the closing, where the pressure to sign is increased.

New rules also place new calculations and procedures on how some debt affects the loan. Student loans and 30-day revolving credit accounts are verified for payments on time. The money received for a down payment is reviewed for its source and more documentation may be required.

With interest rates still hovering around four percent, depending upon the type of adjustable or fixed mortgage and the length of the term, loans are still attractive to those who can make higher percentages on their investment money. This may change however. Fed Chair Janet Yellen has hinted that the central bank may have three separate interest rate hikes this year.

The length of time for the loan application process to go through its steps has increased. Consider this at the time the purchase contract is signed. Don’t commit to a short closing process unless you are confident that the bank is prepared to complete their process on time. It may be frustrating to renegotiate a contract to extend the closing date. I discuss more about that in REALTALK™ #121. Good luck.

Last week I listed an elegant estate behind the secure gates of The Oaks Country Club in Osprey. The home is a delight for features and décor. 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
468 Walls Way, Osprey $1,995,000 Video Photo Slideshow


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


Referendums next week to affect density

by Roger Pettingell

Zoning and Commissioner positions

Voters on Longboat Key to decide zoning changes that will affect density

Colony Beach and Tennis Resort
Former Colony Beach and Tennis Resort - The property sits idle awaiting voter outcome next week.

Longboat Key residents will be voting on two referendums and positions on council when they go to the polls on March 14. Why they are voting on referendums for density increases has been years in the making, and similar ballots have been placed before voters in the past.

As recently as August 2016, Longboat Key voters rejected plans for a north end hotel complex of 105 units on 2.6 acres of land that would have increased the density through a zoning change. The new units would have come from a pool of 250 hotel rooms that residents accepted by a referendum vote in 2008.

There have been other referendums for zoning changes. In May of 2015, voting mostly through absentee ballots, residents approved Longboat Key Club’s plans to convert 300 residences to hotel rooms.

Now there are two new referendums for density increases to be voted upon next Tuesday. Maybe a simplification, but property owners on Longboat Key are concerned about island traffic increases while developers believe new construction will enhance the quality of life for all on Longboat Key and preserve its character.

Referendum 1 is the milder of the two in this contentious debate and involves the Mote Marine property at 5630 Gulf of Mexico Drive. Mote is in the process of selling the property to a private home builder that wants to have a zoning change that would allow 10 residential homes on the 1.5 acres of land.

Concerns over building heights and increased traffic, residents are speaking out against Referendum 2. Voters will be asked to approve a change that would allow up to 417 mixed use units of hotel rooms and residences at the former Colony Beach and Tennis Resort. Unicorp National Developments is the current majority owner of the nearly 17.3 acre parcel of land. Its president, Chuck Whittall, has been holding a series of town hall style meetings to explain his concept for a resort that he says will be one of the best in the nation. He has even proposed increased mass transit systems funded by Unicorp that will alleviate traffic problems.

When the land at 1620 Gulf of Mexico Drive was purchased in 1968, the original owner conceived a premier tennis facility that would be unique in the United States. By 1997 the resort started an eight-year string as the number one tennis resort in the nation as named by Tennis Magazine. Mired in bankruptcies and lawsuits since the mid-2000s, the resort has been vacant since 2009.

Although the wording of Referendum 2 does not change, the developer has changed his proposal. Within the last weeks he proposed the maximum height of the buildings changed from 12 to nine stories and the number of residences from 180 to 108. These changes may be the result he received as feedback from the town hall meetings. If the referendum passes he will submit his plans to the Town Commission for approval.

Whittall also noted that he does not plan to sell the property if the referendum fails. If voters reject Referendum 2, others may step in with their proposals to purchase the land or work with Unicorp. One organization, Colony by the MW Group, has been buying advertising space that claims will transform the colony into a viable resort again without the need for voter approval. They are urging voters to vote no so they can move forward with their proposal to build a resort-style hotel that falls within current zoning regulations.

Registered voters will also elect one District 4 at-large position, vote for Jim Brown or Gene Jaleski, and one Town Commission position, vote for Jack Daly or Larry Grossman.

Absentee balloting ends soon for the 6,344 registered voters on Longboat Key. Next Tuesday residents of Sarasota County will vote in the Town Hall building at 501 Bay Isles Road, while Manatee County residents will place their ballots at the Longboat Island Chapel, 6200 Gulf of Mexico Drive. Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Early voting will be available 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the town hall building, daily through Saturday. Sarasota vote by mail can be found here, while Manatee County forms and information are available here. The last day to register for voting was February 13.

Updated March 15 with election results

Both referendums on Longboat Key to increase density on the island were defeated by voters in the March 14, 2017 general election. Referendum 2 for a zoning change at the former Colony Beach and Tennis Resort went down with nearly a 7:1 ratio of votes. In other results on the island, Town Commissioner Jack Daly retained his seat to represent District 4 and former Mayor Jim Brown won in the district at-large race.

Eight residents vied for two city commissioner positions in Sarasota. Since no one candidate received over 50 percent of the vote, there will be a run-off election May 9, 2017 with the top three advancing: Jen Ahearn-Koch, Hagen Brody and Martin Hyde. The top two will take office May 12.

Check out my newest listing with direct views of Sarasota Bay, Harbourside golf course and downtown Sarasota from this charming Aruba residence at 3080 Grand Bay Boulevard #536 on Longboat Key. 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
3080 Grand Bay Blvd, #536 $679,000   Photo Slideshow


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


South Florida Museum is expanding

by Roger Pettingell

Connect. Creating Pathways for discovery

Museum is poised to be a regional leader with its ambitious expansion

Snooty, a Manatee County icon
Snooty, a local icon - The Manatee County mascot.

Snooty looks to get a new home. The 69-year-old male manatee isn’t moving out of Bradenton where he has lived most of his life, the aquarium is getting an upgrade. And so is the rest of the South Florida Museum that will include an expansion to most of the facilities. Once completed, the museum will continue to build its reputation as a regional leader of science exploration and education.

The original Parker Manatee Aquarium was built for Snooty, a transplant from Miami where he was the first recorded manatee birth in captivity. And since the 1949 Desoto Celebration in Bradenton, the massive 1,230 pound mammal has lived in the aquarium and celebrates his birthday every year. And each day he sets another record as the world’s oldest manatee, documented in the Guinness Book of World Records. There is no telling how old Snooty will live as he is just as spry and entertaining as he has been over the many years.

He lived alone for many years with handlers preparing his daily diet of up to 80 pounds of vegetables and apples. That all changed in 1998 when the aquarium took on its first guest through the Manatee Rehabilitation Network. Snooty would not be able to survive in the wild, but his visitors of fellow manatees come and go to be released back into the wild. There has been a long need for a larger aquarium to accommodate the additional manatees so the ambitious program Connect. Creating Pathways was launched to address Snooty’s habitat and many other aspects of the museum.

Capital fund-raising campaign for the South Florida Museum
The Mosaic Backyard Universe will help young children develop a sense of their natural surroundings through interactive displays. The Connect. campaign, is creating pathways for the museum expansion through donor support.

In the first phase of construction, The Mosaic Backyard Universe will be a 5,000 square foot interactive playground where preschoolers can learn about simple science through natural surroundings. The children will be encouraged to explore the wonders of nature in a familiar environment that will resemble a backyard playground. The expansion will be a part of the museum transformation so entire families can experience a fluid flow of exhibits through the museum to explore the heavens, earth and seas.

The backyard universe will connect with the Bishop Planetarium, a domed building with a high definition display of the universe that can be used to explore the skies of any day as far back as 20,000 years. The planetarium hosts an annual presentation in December to explore the skies that may have been used to guide shepherds to witness young Jesus. The Star of Bethlehem presentation is very popular and typically sells out their shows.

The Bishop Planetarium is also host to other programs such as their think+ drink monthly events that engages local scientists with those curious about the world around them. Had you attended the January monthly presentation of Stelliferous Live you likely would have seen a presentation on the February 11 lunar eclipse. There are still tickets available for the March 22 show that starts at 7 p.m. but get them early because there might be a lively discussion about NASA’s discovery of seven earth-like planets orbiting a star nearly 40 light years away. Planetarium Director Jeff Rodgers will be able to speed up space travel and take you to the solar system recently discovered by scientists. Other planetarium events for adults and families are listed on their website.

The new commons area will upgrade the overall experience by accommodating larger groups to explore the planetarium, natural history offered by the museum and world of aquatic life including Snooty. A relaxing café will be added and plans call for a new gift shop. The museum has a permanent collection of 60,000 objects of local and national significance to be integrated into a new pattern for natural discovery. At times the museum will host special exhibits such as the current Walk in the Park series of photos that runs through May 28. Retired Bradenton Herald award winning photographer Grant Jefferies has displayed a few of his amazing photographs that captures the beauty of the Manatee County preserves.

CEO Brynne Anne Besio
CEO Brynne Anne Besio - The Chief Executive Officer of the South Florida Museum explains the Connect. campaign to a recent gathering of supporters in the Bishop Planetarium.

Museum CEO, Brynne Anne Besio, is optimistic about the future of the South Florida Museum. The plans require money and she is hoping to raise necessary funds through memberships, donations and the Connect. campaign. Contact their membership department to join at one of the levels that most suits your needs. As a member you can take advantage of their reciprocal program with free or discounted admission to other museums that are in the program.

The museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. They are closed on Mondays, some holidays and special event days. It is open for your discovery of nature, our culture, the earth and the skies above us.

Last week I placed two new properties on the market, including a residence at the Ritz-Carlton above the hotel in downtown Sarasota. There designer Anne Folsom-Smith created an interior masterpiece by combining two floor plans into a total of over 5,300 square feet on the 15th floor. The second is a remarkable value on the Gulf of Mexico shoreline in the south building of the Water Club on Longboat Key. 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
1111 Ritz Carlton Dr, #1501 $3,795,000 Video Photo Slideshow
1241 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #111 $499,000   Photo Slideshow


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


Buttonwood Harbour: Community Spotlight

by Roger Pettingell

Wonderful ecosystem on Longboat Key

A secluded enclave near the beach and center of many island activities

Buttonwood Harbour, REALTALK™ #116
Different kind of snowbird - I discussed a highlight of nature in my report of Buttonwood Harbour during my recent REALTALK™ #116 video.

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.

604 Buttonwood Drive home for sale in Buttonwood Harbour
Offered furnished, this recently upgraded home for sale in Buttonwood Harbour is ready to enjoy.

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.

Marina and Moorings of the Longboat Key Club
Longboat Key Club Moorings and Harbourside Golf Course are close to Buttonwood Harbour.

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.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
604 Buttonwood Dr $599,000   Photo Slideshow


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


Sarasota Ritz-Carlton, history and spotlight

by Roger Pettingell

Ritz-Carlton bold bid pays off in Sarasota

An overseas trend started here to combine hotel and residences

Views of downtown from the Ritz
Downtown views from the Ritz-Carlton - Amenities, floorplans and views make up a luxury residence.

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.

REALTALK #71 Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, FL
The Ritz-Carlton lifestyle here in REALTALK™ #119.

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.

1111 Ritz Carlton Drive, #1501
New listing - The views will leave you spellbound.

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.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
101 S. Gulfstream Ave, #11E $399,000   Photo Slideshow


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


New web designs created with the user in mind

by Roger Pettingell

Websites follow responsive guidelines

Complete redesigns for main site and single property sites

New website design for
The new home page - Responsive in design, the video features local Sarasota scenes.

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 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.

Mobile screen for
Mobile devices have a new look with redesign.

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.

New design for 6855 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Rollout of new property websites - The new design for single property sites is easier to navigate.

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 Our new listing in the Grand Bay community has its own web site at 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 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.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
622 S Owl Dr $9,995,000 Video Photo Slideshow
975 Whitakers Lane $2,095,000 Video Photo Slideshow
2301 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #71N $895,000   Photo Slideshow
1211 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #406 $799,000   Photo Slideshow
3080 Grand Bay Blvd, #524 $695,000   Photo Slideshow


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


Circus connection treasures and museums

by Roger Pettingell

Circus is alive through its memorabilia

Three Sarasota locations share the history of the Ringling Circus

John Ringling 1922 Rolls-Royce, known as the Circus Train Ghost
John Ringling 1922 Silver Ghost - The best known car in his collection was the Circus Train Ghost.

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.

Tata Bus Bar at Circus City Salvage
Tata Bus Bar - Imported from India, this bar sells for $2,495 at Circus City Architectural Salvage

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.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
3040 Grand Bay Blvd, #221 $1,695,000   Photo Slideshow
3030 Gulf of Mexico Drive $979,000 Video Photo Slideshow
3808 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #E412 $699,000   Photo Slideshow


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


Smart Homes, the future is getting here quickly

by Roger Pettingell

New technology drives service integration

Definition of a Smart Home by Coldwell Banker

Smart Homes in REALTALK #114
Smart Homes - The advances in REALTALK™ #114

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.

Coldwell Banker Smart Home certificate
I completed my training in Smart Home technology in September through Coldwell Banker University.

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


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


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 263

Why Choose
Roger Pettingell?


  • Over 32 years as a top producing REALTOR® on Longboat Key and in Sarasota.


  • Number 1 single Coldwell Banker agent in all of Florida for 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016
  • Number 1 Realtor on Longboat Key and Bird Key for 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016
  • Number 1 Realtor for all Sarasota in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016
  • Coldwell Banker Society of Excellence award in 2013, 2014 and 2016
  • Ranked among the top 250 agents in the country for 2014 and 2016 by REAL Trends as reported in the Wall Street Journal.

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About Roger Pettingell

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.