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Siesta Key Beach updates

by Roger Pettingell

Retaining its Number 1 National Ranking

Facility and parking updates are key project elements

Siesta Key Beach pavilion
The recently completed Siesta Key Beach pavilion.

It was a warm Sunday recently with plenty of sunshine. So it was no wonder that the beaches would be crowded. But this was Siesta Key, once rated the number one beach in the nation by Dr. Beach. On this day canopied tents could be seen nearly side-by-side in each direction with seemingly unlimited numbers. The sands were also rated as best in the world as a result of the Great International Beach Challenge in 1987. The sand made of white quartz reflects nearly all of the sun’s rays making it a pleasant experience to walk on.

Over the years many factors came into play that began to erode the condition of the beach facilities. Siesta Beach continued its fantastic ride for tourism though and in 2015 was named the number one beach in the United States by TripAdvisor and AARP.

The beach with its facilities are now poised to retain its ranking as the best beach to be found in the nation, and the world. A $21.5 million restoration project started when the citizens of Siesta Key approved the Surtax III Economic Stimulus Program, which implemented a penny sales tax. Plans were set out to complete a project that would enhance the aging facilities built in the 1950s and expand the parking lots.

The designs in 2012 also included an east and west 15-foot wide esplanade of light-colored pavers that reflect the rays of the sun. They also planned for upgraded restrooms. A sheriff and lifeguard building is state of the art. The historic pavilion was restored as a public gathering place. Other improvements were made, a concession stand area was elevated to 19 feet creating a spectacular sunset viewing area, earning its name as the Sunset Deck.

Walkway to the shoreline
Access to the shoreline - An enhanced walkway was worked into the plans for easier access to the beach. Note the line of canopies in the background.

The parking lot was made easier to navigate and increased from 837 parking spaces to 980. Access from Beach Road was also improved. Over 1,300 palm and canopy trees that are native to the area replaced pine trees for aesthetics and less maintenance. Siesta Key Beach continues its tradition as a family-oriented park with new picnic tables and a children’s playground. Most of the park is handicapped accessible with ramps to upper areas and a long travel mat with access to the beachfront.

Siesta Key Beach is one of the safest in the world for families too. On its 100 acres of county-owned property there are highly trained lifeguards with the latest in life-saving equipment posted throughout the year. The shallow waters near the shore make it great for smaller children. Harmful currents are reduced since these depths are consistent along the shoreline.

The beach will continue its annual traditions. The annual Siesta Key Crystal Classic will begin November 11, 2016. For five days spanning that weekend sand-sculpting artists from around the world compete in this outdoor art gallery. There is an opening party on that Tuesday before the competition so you can meet the 24 participating artists. Some of the amateur artists that compete at Siesta Key Beach in an annual May contest go onto their professional careers from there. The Classic attracts over 17,000 visitors from outside of the area according to chamber of commerce statistics, nearly half of the 35,000 sand sculpting attendees.

The Siesta Key Crystal Classic master sand sculpting competition
The Siesta Key Crystal Classic master sand sculpting competition is held in November each year.

This year the 7th annual Fiesta on Siesta Key collegiate volleyball tournament was held in April. In that tournament 35 colleges from mostly southeastern United States competed. Siesta Key also participates in the Dig the Beach volleyball series of eight stops in Florida, with two stops held here in mid-May and early July. In this series professional and amateur teams of two compete for prize money and scholarships.

Last week I listed a country-club lifestyle home for sale in Stanhope Gate. I followed that up with marketing my Sarasota homes for sale in my Thursday REALTALK™ #95 video. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing of this University Park Country Club home or if you have a property to sell or buy.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
7043 Stanhope Place $710,000   Photo Slideshow

 

Simple property searches

by Roger Pettingell

New property searches based on lifestyles

Find your dream home quicker with designed pages by area

Navigate to Property Listings, Lifestyles and the area
New searches - Navigate to Property Listings, Lifestyles and the area desired.

Searching for your dream home or residence in the area just got easier. Last week we launched a series of web pages that are designed for searches by an area of lifestyle. For the past couple of years you could perform a search by community such as Grand Bay or Bird Key. Now, let’s say you want to live on the beach of Longboat Key but haven’t decided on a community, or even if you have narrowed your search to a penthouse or single-family home. Under Property Listings at the top of the page, navigate to Lifestyle and select Gulf Beachfront. We have two pages of property searches for homes that are on the Longboat Key Club championship golf courses. Considering Bay Isles for its beach access? There is page devoted to all the communities with deeded access behind the manned gates of the Bay Isles Beach Club. Since Bay Isles has a large list with a wide price range, we’ve broken it down further and have selections to fit your budget. Here is a list of the lifestyle areas, with more in the plans.

The first is downtown Sarasota. New construction is apparent on almost every street increasing inventory in one of the most cultural cities in the country. Within walking distance you can see an opera, ballet, symphony orchestra or a world class event at the Van Wezel performing Arts Center. There are smaller venues for theater and comedy within the downtown district. Moor your boat at Marina Jack on Sarasota Bay or stroll over to the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens to explore the splendor of our plant-life. The Vue Sarasota dominates new construction in the area with 141 residences on 19 floors. New condominiums are also on Golden Gate Point and on the concentric streets that encircle Bayfront Drive. The Ritz-Carlton continues its excellence downtown with private residences. For value-driven buyers, consider getting in on the ground floor with new construction pricing. There is much to see and do in downtown, just waiting for your leap into luxury living.

Whether you are looking for a single family home or a high rise condominium, nothing is better than walking out to the white sands of Longboat Key on the Gulf of Mexico side and gazing at a spectacular sunset. Single family homes on the beach are clustered at the mid-mark and north end of the island. If maintenance-free living is your lifestyle choice, there is a vast selection of residences to choose from including properties at the ground level to luxurious penthouse suites. Many of these communities are close to fine dining, shopping and the diversity of cultural arts in Sarasota. Live with your toes in the sand in sunny Florida.

Bay Isles Beach Club
Bay Isles - There are many properties for sale behind the two manned gates of Bay Isles so we broke out pages further by price range.

Residents of Bay Isles on Longboat Key enjoy privacy and the security of 24-hour manned guard gates. They also receive the amenities of their communities and deeded access to the Bay Isles Beach Club. Outside the gates are the conveniences of grocery shopping, fine restaurants and services that complement their luxury lifestyle. There are several communities from which to live, from the maintenance-free living of single-family homes in Queens Harbour and Corey's Landing to the townhouses, homes and condominiums of Fairway Bay. Enjoy the luxury lifestyle of Grand Bay with six buildings of residences behind its own manned gates located on the Harbourside Golf Course and near the marina of the Longboat Key Club Moorings. Boat docks for yachts in the marina are sold on the Multiple Listing Service and they appear on the properties page that are for sale under $500,000. Homes in Bay Isles are highly desirable, including this home that was sold the day I listed it last week at 3541 Fair Oaks Lane in Queens Harbour.

Overlook Longboat Key Club's championship Harbourside Golf Course in a single family home or a high rise condominium. We have a good selection of homes in Queens Harbor and Corey's Landing to residences at Grand Bay and Fairway Bay. Owners of the properties here have deeded access to the Bay Isles Beach Club and the beach facilities on Longboat Key, Florida. Play three sets of nine courses at Harbourside outside your front door including the White Egret, Red Hawk and Blue Heron. Nearby on the course is the Longboat Key Club Moorings marina and the Portofino Restaurant and Grill.

The best of many worlds with the Gulf of Mexico white sands out your front door and the championship golf course Links on Longboat (formerly Islandside Golf Course) out your back door. Complement that lifestyle with the renowned St. Armands Circle nearby and membership in the Longboat Key Club for tennis, socializing and more fine dining. These properties on the beach are for sale as high rise condominiums at the Sanctuary, L'Ambiance, Longboat Key Towers, the Pierre or are available as single family homes. Add the many features of Longboat Key, Florida and the cultural arts center of Sarasota and you will never want to leave.

South Lido Key condominiums
Beachfront residences on south Lido Key

Enjoy the luxury lifestyle on the Gulf of Mexico in maintenance-free living with these residences for sale on the white sands of the beach. Close to world renowned St. Armands Circle and the ecosystem of Ted Sperling Park, 100 acres for kayaking and trail-blazing with 640 liner feet of Gulf beach on south Lido Key. Walk out to the beach from a ground-floor residence or enjoy one of many spectacular sunsets from a top-floor penthouse. You will have prime viewing for the annual Power Boat Grand Prix held each year over the Independence Day weekend.

The history of St. Armands Circle started when circus magnate John Ringling had a vision for creating an island atmosphere of homes that linked Sarasota to Longboat Key. Today the Circle is a display of the history that is surrounded by fine dining, boutique shopping and an active nightlife. Single-family homes dominate the surrounding area. Homeowners play on the circle or cross the Ringling Bridge for the cultural arts that Sarasota provides. Updated luxury homes co-exist with quaint homes that reflect the prosperity of the times when other civic leaders took over Ringling's vision and made it a renowned world landmark. Some homes around the circle toward Lido Beach have docks on water with direct access to Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

Find your dream home quicker, then please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
* 3541 Fair Oaks Lane $999,000    

 

* Sold the same day it was listed on MLS.

 

Third annual lionfish derby

by Roger Pettingell

Invasive species dealt with at Mote Marine

Three days devoted to lionfish with derby and education

Lionfish measurements at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium on July 10
Lionfish measurements - Although this wasn't the largest lionfish caught at the derby on Saturday, volunteers who were measuring said it was close.

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium has multiple offices around the state and has scientists in the field all over the world. So it was fitting that the organization that promotes education and research of the world’s oceans sponsor one of many lionfish hunts, an invasive species that threatens other species in the waters around us. Three days were devoted to the lionfish, starting with a captain’s meeting on Friday and concluding yesterday with an awards ceremony and lionfish cook-off by local chefs.

In the wild it is a beautiful fish to look at with its orange, black and white colors. It floats on the floor of salt water oceans and is spectacular to see with its wide pectoral fins spread out to each side. The beauty ends there. Its colorful dorsal fin is a series of 18 spines that contain poison to ward off natural predators. It consumes fish at a voracious rate that threatens the health of reefs. The fish also breeds at an incredible rate, sometimes producing 30,000 eggs every four months and reported to lay up to 2 million eggs a year.

So now it has become an enemy of the state. First spotted in the United States off the east coast in the 1980s, this natural predator indigenous to Indonesia has found its way around to almost all areas of Florida’s saltwater. They are proliferating, the Wall street Journal reported last week that breeding clusters are now off the coast of Turkey and Cyprus.

Volunteers dissect a lionfish
Lionfish research - Volunteers at Mote Marine dissect one of the lionfish brought in by one of the four-man teams to log its maturity and sex.

We may be curbing their proliferation here. Divers in the derby yesterday said they had to go 30 miles out in 100 feet of water, when in the past they had found them closer to shore and in shallower waters. This is the third annual lionfish hunt at Mote but beyond the derbies divers are encouraged to harvest the fish at every occasion. The Reef Environmental Education Foundation, or REEF, an organization that was founded in 1990, sanctioned the event yesterday. It claims derbies like this have removed 12,000 lionfish since it held its first one in 2009 in the Bahamas. The next one on their schedule will be this weekend in Ft. Lauderdale.

The team entered by the name We Be Dreamin’ brought in 349 lionfish during the derby on Saturday for the most caught and turned in the largest at 384 mm. A total of 429 fish were captured among six teams. One of the sponsors of the derby was the ZooKeeper, manufacturers of a holding tube for captured lionfish, created by local diver Allie ElHage. Spearfishermen collect lionfish and stack them in the Lionfish Containment Unit (LCU) for safe transport back to the boat. The standard size can hold up to 60 lionfish at a time. Team ZooKeeper turned in the smallest fish among competitors on Saturday at 112 mm.

Proponents of lionfish hunting have wondered what to do with the fish once they are pulled from the sea. The fish reportedly has the same texture as grouper so recipes have emerged with similar cooking styles. Once the spines are removed they pose no threat for consumption. Four restaurants were represented at Mote to demonstrate how they prepare lionfish.

Chef Steve Phelps of the Indigenous Restaurant was on hand. He says the lionfish is similar to hogfish and yellowtail snapper, and claims it is good as sushi or cooked. Although it is not specifically mentioned on the menu at the restaurant , it may be part of the Hook to Fork special on any given night. Indigenous Restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday at 239 S. Links Ave in Sarasota.

Representing its three locations in Sarasota and its catering business, chef Paul Mattison prepared lionfish at one of the tables. Although it isn’t on the menu at the City Grille, Bayside or Forty-One restaurants, you may have to ask if they will prepare one for you on any given night.

The culinary director for the Beachhouse Restaurant at Bradenton Beach, Erik Walker, was on hand to cook his favorite lionfish recipe. It is not on the menu there, nor is it on the menus of their sister restaurants, the Sandbar Restaurant on Anna Maria Island or the Mar Vista Restaurant on Longboat Key.

German born executive chef from the Seafood Shack in Cortez, Gerard Jesse, represented the fourth restaurant. You might “catch” it on their Fish of the Day menu served with Spanish rice and seasonal vegetables, but ask first.

You might want to check out Trash Fish Sarasota at Louies Modern on August 7 starting at 6 p.m., also in its third year. Lionfish will be served featuring preparations by the chefs above and chefs from other local restaurants. Other fish that you thought you may never eat such as rudderfish and Sarasota sturgeon are also on the menu, along with beer from sponsors Big Top Brewing Co. and J Dubs Brewery. Portions of your ticket price will benefit the Chefs Collaborative.

Finding lionfish specifically called out on the menu of any local restaurant is difficult. The Big Water Fish Market at 6641 Midnight Pass Rd on Siesta Key is holding Eat the Enemy Parties every Friday through August 12. They are serving lionfish dinners from 6 to 9 p.m. on those party days. REEF has a list of Florida restaurants that serve lionfish off the menu, mostly in the south and in the keys. There are two in Fort Pierce on the east coast and one on Marco Island.

Dolphin training at Mote Marine Aquarium
Training at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium.

Last month Florida Whole Food Markets began selling lionfish in their seafood departments for $9.99 per pound. If you are really ready to try a recipe on your own, contact the local store at 1451 First Street or call the seafood department first at (941) 316-4700. Their team members will clean and fillet them for you.

If you have never been to Mote Marine and Aquarium on City Island you will find there is a lot going on there for marine research. The aquarium is fascinating and specimens of manatees, dolphins, sea turtles and sharks can be seen up close. There are education programs too that provide a good insight into the research Mote scientists perform for a better understanding of the oceans and the reefs.

The lionfish derby is just one of many fascinating events in Sarasota and on Longboat Key. I listed a house on a sailboat deep-water canal of Bird Key last week, a wonderful home at 646 South Owl Drive. 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
646 South Owl Dr $1,750,000 Video Photo Slideshow

 

Fireworks Tonight

by Roger Pettingell

Spectacular Independence Day fireworks

The best of local celebrations from North Port to Palmetto

Fireworks on Monday
Fireworks off Bayfront Park in Sarasota, part of the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix this year.

I hope your holiday weekend has been enjoyable and safe, but it’s not over yet. There’s fireworks tonight. You won’t have to drive far from your home to find fireworks today and you may be able to sit on your terrace to catch a spectacular display. I’ve seen some great locations from L’Ambiance on Longboat Key or downtown residences in which to catch one of the best displays in the area, the Fireworks Spectacular over Sarasota Bay. If you want to avoid the traffic, consider taking a boat and anchoring south of the Ringling Bridge for the explosions emanating from Bayfront Park. You can expect a 9 p.m. start for all the fireworks, so allow plenty of time for traffic and set up early for the better lawn chair viewing locations.

The Fireworks Spectacular over Sarasota Bay signals the final end of the 32nd Annual Sarasota Power Boat Grand Prix Festival with racing on Saturday and Sunday. The proceeds from festival events such as the “Grand Prix by the Sea” kickoff party last Tuesday benefit production of the fireworks and Suncoast Charities for Children. This non-profit organization provides funding support to Suncoast Foundation for Handicapped Children, Inc. and has served the special needs community since 1985.

Marie Selby Gardens, near Bayfront Park, will hold its All American Barbecue before the fireworks show. This is a ticketed event that includes four barbecue pit masters and music from the Lauren Mitchell Band. There are different levels of ticket prices and there is VIP seating available for purchase of this event that starts at 6 p.m.

You can stay downtown all afternoon and keep your car in a good location for the fireworks. At 4:30 p.m. the choral artists of Sarasota, Gloria Musicae, will present their Patriotic Spectacular! at First United Methodist Church. The group’s Artistic Director Joseph Holt will lead the chorus in songs by Irving Berlin, John Philip Sousa, George M. Cohan and will include a salute to our armed forces. Call for tickets at (941) 387-6046.

An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 people are expected at the Siesta Key Fireworks Display, if the weather holds. These fireworks are in their 26th year and will go off north of the volleyball courts. Again, those fortunate to go by boat can view from the intracoastal or the Gulf of Mexico. A lawn chair on the beach will also provide prime viewing locations. Thank the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce for hosting these fireworks put on by Zambelli Fireworks. The chamber is actively seeking local donors to continue this Independence Day tradition.

If you live in Manatee County there are two locations to catch fireworks. As part of its Fourth Festival in Palmetto, good viewing of Fireworks over Manatee River can be seen from either side of the river. A free concert starts at 5 p.m. in Sutton Park and features two successful bands, Big Daddy and Smash Mouth. The party starts at 4 p.m. with food vendors and children’s activities. Across the river the Pier 22 Restaurant has its annual Pig Roast starting at 6 p.m. through the time of fireworks with VIP viewing. Reservations are required for this limited seating venue. Also in the county the Sandbar Restaurant on the north end of Anna Maria Island will hold its annual Fireworks Spectacular. Beach viewing is free but there is VIP limited seating in the outside pavilion. The Chamber of Commerce offers free trolley service up the island so you can park away and ride to the restaurant.

Sandbar Restaurant fireworks, Anna Maria Island
Be safe on the 4th - Florida allows some backyard fireworks without a permit. Although having your own fireworks display may be fun, it also poses potential problems. Sparklers, fountains, snakes and glow worms are permitted by Florida law.

Southern Sarasota County residents might want to head to Venice for the fireworks that are set off from the south beach jetty. Thousands line up for this spectacular fireworks display. If you are looking for something to do in Venice before the fireworks there are two events to consider, the Myakka Kayaka Jam Blast and America the Beautiful performance. The Jam Blast starts at 8 a.m. with free admission at Snook Haven. This festival features watercraft by paddle, music and beer, but ends at 4 p.m. America the Beautiful, a Patriotic Celebration at the Presbyterian Church, 825 The Rialto, begins at 7 p.m. for the concert starring Brian Gurl and featuring Michelle Pruyn and Katherine Alexandra. Tickets are required so call (941) 488-2258 for availability.

The annual Freedom Festival will shoot off its fireworks after a fun day that begins at 6 p.m. at the North Port High School stadium. Lawn chairs will be good to see the fireworks. This is a family event that features kid’s activities, food vendors, gladiator joust and live music by Zombie University. Note that Price Boulevard in North Port will close about a half hour before the fireworks.

Whether by car or boat, allow some time to get to the venue of your choice. Be aware there will be no SCAT mass transit bus or trolley service today in Sarasota County. Manatee County service will be restricted and has no fixed route traffic. Taxis and the ride sharing services of Uber and Lyft may be available but will be very busy. Traffic is monitored at www.FL511.com or through mapping programs such as mapquest.com. FL511 also has a free mobile app to download.

So wherever you live in Sarasota and Manatee counties you should be able to find something good for the entire family. I have a list of fireworks and community celebrations below. Enjoy your holiday and please contact me at (941) 387-1840 if you have a property to sell or buy.

Fireworks Tonight

Event Location City
Fireworks Spectacular over Sarasota Bay Bayfront Park Sarasota
Siesta Key Fireworks Display Beach Siesta Key
Fireworks over Manatee River Sutton Park Palmetto
Venice Fireworks South Jetty Venice Beach
Fireworks Spectacular Sandbar Restaurant Anna Maria Island
Freedom Festival High School Stadium North Port

 

Independence Day Community Celebrations

Event Location City
Longboat Key Freedom Fest Bicentennial Park Longboat Key
All-American BBQ Marie Selby Gardens Sarasota
Patriotic Spectacular, Gloria Musicae First United Methodist Sarasota
Liberty Day Regatta and Fest Sarasota Sailing Squadron City Island
Manatee River Festival Sutton Park Palmetto
Privateer's 4th of July Parade Island parade route Anna Maria Island
America the Beautiful, performance Presbyterian Church Venice
Myakka Kayaka Jam Blast Snook Haven Venice
Freedom Festival High School Stadium North Port

 

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Roger Pettingell?

Experience

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

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  • 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.