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Sarasota Film Festival

by Roger Pettingell

19th annual event kicks off Friday

Filmmakers and cinema stars in town for 10 days

Sarasota Opera House
Many of the events for the 2017 Sarasota Film Festival will be held at the Sarasota Opera House.

An annual event in Sarasota that attracts film stars and helps reflect the cultural arts spirit is the Sarasota Film Festival, which starts this Friday with an opening celebration. Each year they feature stars that are invited to the festival so fans can get up close and personal. There is so much going on that it will be hard not to see the gatherings at events, especially if you are in the areas around the Sarasota Opera House or the Regal Cinemas Hollywood 20. It will have the appearance of Cannes or Sundance, but you don’t have to leave Florida to enjoy.

A tribute luncheon at the Sarasota Yacht Club on opening day will feature film icon Rory Kennedy. The youngest child to Senator Bobby Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy, one of her documentary productions, Last Days in Vietnam, was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 2015 Academy Awards.

The red carpet rolls out on Friday at 5:30 p.m. at the opera house before the opening night film, Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton. This is a 2017 documentary of his charismatic life during the winter surf season on Kauai Island of Hawaii. Rory Kennedy is the film director and is expected to be in attendance for the film showing. If you don't see her at the luncheon you may likely catch up with her at the opening night party following the film. Cocktail attire is the dress of choice for both. Grab a SFF signature cocktail as North Pineapple Avenue turns into a block party with the music of Jah Movement, one of Florida’s best reggae bands.

One of the film stars in SFF attendance will be actress Diane Lane, who had her screen debut in 1979. She will be attending the closing night film, Paris Can Wait, a 2016 comedy romance film with actors Alec Baldwin and Arnaud Viard. On April 8 she will have a 90-minute conversation with the audience at 2:30 p.m. in the Keating Theatre of the Florida Studio Theatre on Palm Avenue.

Aisha Tylor, possibly best known for her show, The Talk, will also be in conversation with the audience at Florida Studio Theatre, noon on April 8. The Talk has been Nominated for five Emmy Awards. She made her directorial debut with the film Axis, which will be shown during the film festival, April 7 and 8.

Another Oscar nominee, Stanley Tucci, will be in attendance and is on the advisory board of directors for the film festival. The film festival movie Paint it Black was produced by his production company, but you may remember him most for his role as Caesar Flickerman, the outrageous show host in the Hunger Games. He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in The Lovely Bones.

Rosanna Arquette has also announced she will be attending the film festival. She is an actress, film director and producer, nominated for an Emmy Award in 1982 for her role in The Executioner's Song. She has appeared in several movies starting with her debut in 1978 alongside Bette Davis in The Dark Secret of Harvest Home.

Kenny Anderson, a point guard from Georgia Tech who played for several NBA teams from 1991 to 2006, will be on a panel discussion on the topic, athletics and youth empowerment in the Florida Studio Theater on April 8. His movie Mr. Chibbs is part of the Sports in Cinema Features of full-length films and shorts that will be shown during the festival.

Look for signs downtown advertising the SFF with the theme this year, See and be Seen. The series of posters were created by local artist Ringling College of Art student Tyler Mathis, whose artwork was selected from nearly 20 other submissions. He used homophone words of the theme for his posters, interchanging appropriately Sea for See and Scene for Seen. So you should dress to be seen at the Sea and Scene Block party in J.D. Hamel Park, the night of April 7.

There is plenty to do during the week. Hollywood Nights with a red carpet for student film creators kicks off Sunday, April 2, with screenings in the Regal Cinemas Hollywood 20 theater. Veterans are featured Tuesday night at the Sarasota Opera House with the world premiere showing of Returning, which shows returning veterans of war and their reintegration into society. The Booker Film Academy shows off their student achievement, Redirection on Thursday at the Regal Cinemas Hollywood 20 theater. Into the Who Knows! is a sensory-friendly screening in Theatre 9 of the Regal Cinemas Hollywood 20 on Sunday, April 9.

There are also panel discussions, topical films, short films. The theme, Through Women’s Eyes, will feature 15 shorts and six full-length movies written, directed and produced by women on April 1 and 2. It kicks off with a reception at Sarasota City Center on Saturday at 5 p.m. The theme, Florida on Film, features 21 short films and four full-length films created by Florida filmmakers. Each day there are centerpiece and spotlight films in the theaters of the Regal Cinemas Hollywood 20.

Then it’s time to wrap up the 19th Annual Sarasota Film Festival with a…Wrap Party, Saturday at the Sarasota Sky Bar & Club. Hank & Cupcakes from Atlanta will be spinning pop songs that evening for your friends, filmmakers and industry guests. Enjoy the films.

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


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Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4




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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.