New construction transforms Sarasota

High-rise developments spark 2018 growth spurt for Sarasota County

BLVD in downtown Sarasota
BLVD - The Belle Haven Apartment building in the background of the BLVD construction site on old Quay property has been saved from the wrecking ball.

As we approach 2019 and ring in the year tonight I will take the time today to reflect on the very eventful year for new development on Longboat Key and Sarasota. It was one of the largest development booms I have seen in years. What has started this year will change the skyline of Sarasota downtown and return Longboat Key to the glory days with a resort to complement the Longboat Key Club. Even the Key Club itself is transforming with new hotel spaces.

The Rosemary District in downtown Sarasota is glowing with new construction for the luxury buyer. One of the most visible new construction sites is the BLVD, 18 stories downtown with planned 49 new residences and an estimated completion date of August 30, 2019. Get in on the ground floor, literally, as there are residences remaining for sale. The new Westin, VUE and Embassy Suites are all within a couple blocks of each other. These high rise buildings of contemporary style have already made their mark on the landscape.

As the land across the street is in the process of clearing, the old Quay area will be a wonderland of mixed use dwellings that will expand into new residential, entertainment and dining experiences. The first building to rise up out of the grounds is a new Ritz-Carlton. Sitting alone among the construction equipment and mounds of gravel is the Belle Haven Apartment building. The 1925 structure will become the center-piece of the 15-acre bayfront property once it receives a complete remodeling of its interior.

On Longboat Key, excitement abounds for the resurgence of the Colony Beach Resort. Demolition of the last building has been completed for the planned luxury resort of 17.6 acres that will be operated by the prestigious St. Regis Hotel chain and renamed Residences at Longboat Key. To continue, the courts will decide on a process to dissolve the condominium association and with it the remaining properties still under ownership. If construction begins in 2019, completion is expected by the end of 2021 for 166 five-star resort hotel rooms and 78 residential units. A highlight of the old Colony was the Monkey Bar which will be recreated on the resort grounds. Expect more opulent amenities typical of a five-star hotel such as swimming pools and a lazy river, high quality recreational facilities, fine dining and lush landscaping.

Guard Shack at Longboat Key Club entrance
The new guard shack at the Longboat Key Club entrance paves the way for the new hotel on the south end of Longboat Key overlooking New Pass.

The Longboat Key Club is undergoing its own renaissance with the realignment of its entrance road in preparation for new development on the southern end of the island. In 2015 Longboat Key residents approved a referendum that would allow 300 tourism units. Longboat Key Club owners, Ocean Properties, plan to use those units to expand its number of guest rooms with a new hotel overlooking New Pass. Although specific plans have not been made public, Ocean Properties has committed $100 million to the project.

Cultural centers and non-profits are launching capital campaigns to expand their programs that are on the drawing board. The Ringling Museum has raised most of its $100 million goal for its Ringling Inspires campaign. The upgrades to the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens will be significant with its $92 million campaign. The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe will renovate its theater starting in the spring after meeting the campaign goal of $6 million and the Players Centre for the Performing Arts has plans to open a new three-theater complex in Lakewood Ranch, likely in 2020. The Asolo Repertory Theatre will double in size once its capital campaign is completed. The Ringling College of Art and Design has already opened its new post-production studio and three soundstages. Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium will move most of its futuristic public education center out to a site near the new Mall at University Town Center.

The year has also been kind to my real estate business, setting another county record by an individual agent. Volume sales this year totaled over $106 million with 71 total sides, a combination of seller listings and buyer representation. That beat my record last year, the previous county record, prolonging my streak of consecutive top sales for Sarasota County. There were some challenges overcoming economic instability and environmental hazards with a strong inventory of diverse properties for sale. There were some high profile sales, seven luxury properties over $3 million that are spotlighted here.

622 South Owl Drive
Highest sale of 2018 - 622 South Owl Drive

In April I sold a home that closed at the highest amount ever recorded on Bird Key, a home with adjacent land that combined closed for $8.6 million and reported in this Business Observer article. The spectacular location of this custom home is unique to Sarasota at 622 South Owl Drive. Situated on a two-lot, corner homesite, offers more than 450 feet of direct bay frontage and direct boating access to the bay and Gulf when accompanied with the 626 South Owl Drive lot with beautiful landscaping. The stunning four-bedroom layout is a flourish of beautiful finishes, featuring over 5,000 square feet of impressive interior with sound-proof office, family room, gourmet kitchen, plus a fully-equipped summer kitchen with plenty of outdoor entertaining areas.

Also in April I closed on the most coveted beach penthouse available at 1300 Benjamin Franklin Dr, #1201. Dazzling morning sunrise and crimson sunset views abound from this residence at Beach Residences, the beach properties of the Ritz-Carlton. In a fabulous corner location, this three-bedroom plus family room, top-floor residence gives the feeling of a single-family home, boasting 4,200 square feet of interior, its own private two-car garage, plus an additional covered space with two generous terraces. This residence closed at an even $5 million and can be seen here on its own single-property website.

5080 Gulf of Mexico Drive
My highest sale on Longboat Key in 2018 was at 5080 Gulf of Mexico Drive, sold at $4.7 million.

On the last day of July we closed on my highest Longboat Key sale for the year at $4.7 million. The European-inspired bayfront estate is immaculately maintained, a remarkable display of custom features and elegant finishes at 5080 Gulf of Mexico Drive. Surrounded by privacy walls of tropical landscaping with a gated entry, this special home offers more than 100 feet of bay frontage, showcasing far-reaching views of tranquil waters at every turn. The luxurious five-bedroom layout comprises nearly 9,000 square feet of designer living space and over 2,300 square feet of terraces covered in Travertine tile.

The one-of-a-kind, double-Sabel floorplan with almost 5,700 square feet of living space at 415 L’Ambiance, #C704-5 was placed on the market and within one week it went into contract for $3.9 million. Built in 1992, L’Ambiance has been sought after for its opulence and amenities. From this unique residence, the owners could use personal steps from their own terrace to access 300 linear feet of white sand on the Gulf of Mexico. In two buildings L’Ambiance offers many recreational opportunities with a state-of-the-art fitness center, Har-Tru tennis courts and heated swimming pools. Fantastic views of the Gulf of Mexico, Ringling Bridge, Sarasota Bay and sparkling lights of the city of Sarasota were accessible in this residence. This home and couple I represented were featured in a Sarasota Herald-Tribune article, Circus couple turning the page on striking Gulf-front condo.

663 Mourning Dove Drive
Bird Key - Strong 2018 sales here include this $3 million home sale at 663 Mourning Dove Drive.

Two Bird Key homes on Mourning Dove Drive closed for similar prices over $3 million. The first home at 663 Mourning Dove Drive that closed in April for $3.3 million has sprawling views of Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Its expansive, 6,200 square-foot interior create an ideal environment to immediately enjoy this six-bedroom estate. Lovely details inside and out, also include pavered driveway and gated entry, coffered and tray ceilings, solid-wood beam work, chef’s kitchen with granite countertops, custom built-ins, elevator, solar water heater and panels, brick patios and an open pool deck.

Five months later I closed on a lovely, updated five bedroom, 5,000 square foot Bird Key home at 639 Mourning Dove Drive that sold for $3.15 million. This residence abounds in sprawling views of the bay, bridge and downtown. Boating enthusiasts will covet the direct-bay location, 130 feet of frontage and deep-water dockage.

Just before Thanksgiving I closed on a beachfront residence in the Longboat Key Positano community at 4985 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #401 for $3.1 million. There is a spectacular walkout to the beautiful beach and azure waters from this first-floor beachfront condo that features a private pool and spa. Positano, a 10 acre oasis with only 29 residences, has a full time security staff and a gated entrance. This is Florida living at its very best.

With each new year we reflect on the past and make resolutions for a better year. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 in 2019 if you have property to sell or buy. I wish you a very happy and healthy 2019, Happy New Year!