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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.

Plans for the 235 hotel rooms and resort was to be 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.

A complete list of residences for sale at the Ritz-CarIton hotel are available here. 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 LongboatRealEstate.com
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 LongboatRealEstate.com is the video that plays across the screen when you open the home page. The video is a montage of Sarasota and Longboat Key scenes so that site visitors can get a glimpse of life in the area. It shows our beautiful weather, some of the culture and areas where you can dine out in luxury. It is short but if the visitor has serious work to do they can begin their home search or pull from the menus that are highlighted at the top.

The video and the entire site is in a design that is responsive to the size of screen you have or smartphone you may be carrying. A few years ago Google, the giant of all search engines with 80% of the searches on the Internet, announced it would favor websites that are optimized for mobile devises. We were ahead of the game and confirmed our site was good for their algorithm. But they change as technology changes. Now the search engines in their results are favoring websites that are responsive and adapt the output for mobile devices and desktop machines.

What that means for sellers that list with me is that their property has a better chance to be seen by buyers that are using a search engine to look for properties to buy. As the search engines adapt to the public use of technology such as smaller screen, we try to be at the forefront of those changes.

Scrolling down the home page you may see that we left the sliding images of the properties with direct links to our featured listings. The number of properties displayed is responsive to the size of the screen. On a desktop you may see 12 properties for sale, but may only see two on a large smartphone. In the old design the number was limited to five no matter what the size of screen.

Mobile screen for LongboatrRealEstate.com
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 www.6855gulfofmexicodrive.com. Our new listing in the Grand Bay community has its own web site at www.GrandBay524.com. These sites receive a lot of traffic from outside sources as the information is syndicated to over 40 real estate portals such as Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com. We feel the new design is more exciting and they also are responsive to different size screens as in our main web site. Another change is that most of the basic information for each home is condensed to one scrolling page. There is a drop-down menu in the upper right with access to more information though. I will be rolling out this new design to promote our homes moving forward.

I listed five new homes last week including one that has the most luxury appeal in a great location. The home at 622 S. Owl Drive is a waterfront home that has two lots that can be separated or left with the home with its mature landscaping for privacy. Our new listing at 975 Whitakers Lane in Sarasota is a boat-lover’s dream with direct access to Sarasota Bay and out to the Gulf of Mexico. The listings in the Islander Club at 2301 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #71N, the Promenade at 1211 Gulf of Mexico Dr, # 406 and the listing noted above in the Grand Bay community expand our inventory of luxury waterfront residences. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.

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

 

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Why Choose
Roger Pettingell?

Experience

  • Over 33 years as a top producing REALTOR® on Longboat Key and in Sarasota.

Achievements

  • Number 1 single Coldwell Banker agent in all of Florida for 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017
  • Number 1 Realtor on Longboat Key and Bird Key for 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018
  • Number 1 Realtor for all Sarasota in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018
  • Coldwell Banker Society of Excellence award in 2013, 2014 and 2016
  • Ranked among the top 250 agents in the country for 2014, 2016 and 2017 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.