Real Estate Information Archive


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The eventual rise of Longboat Key

by Roger Pettingell

Longboat Key: Circus times to today

Our story picks up from last week on the history of Longboat Key

Ritz-Carlton hotel in 1952
Ritz-Carlton - Ringling's dream of a grand hotel on Longboat Key ended in the late 1920s. The structure was demolished in 1964 to make way for Arvida's new Longboat Key Club with its many amenities

While John Ringling had eyes on developing his circus on the mainland, he had a keen sense for the barrier islands as a real estate developer. He was the visionary for bringing his circus to Sarasota in 1927 and purchasing land in the Sarasota area. It was that period before then in which he purchased much of the south end of Longboat Key, an undeveloped Bird Key, St. Armands Key and a couple smaller keys. He set out to create a grand playground for the rich to vacation in this slice of paradise.

A short time before then, another developer Owen Burns had his own plans for developing Sarasota and the barrier islands, starting with the development of the Lido Key Beach. Before World War I, under his Burns Realty Company and the Burns Construction Company he was instrumental in its development and the area now known as Burns Court in Sarasota.

He and Ringling together were working together to manage the tremendous growth they had seen for the area. This is where we pick up from last week on the early years of Longboat Key, and progress to what is today Longboat Key.

St. Armands Circle was a vision Ringling had for shops and dining. He purchased a home under construction to be used for Warren G. Harding as a winter White House for the president. This was a great growth spurt for the area during this period of the roaring twenties. Ringling also set out to construct the first Ringling Bridge from Sarasota to St. Armands Key in 1925. It was then that his grandest illusion was forming, the construction of a Ritz-Carlton branded hotel that would be the invitation for the rich and famous.

Tragedy struck in many forms. In 1921 a hurricane devastated the area and created a New Pass inlet that now separates Lido Key from Longboat Key. Ringling may have used this as an omen to build his Ritz-Carlton on the southern edge of Longboat Key overlooking New Pass. A bigger set-back may have been the economic breakdown and land bust during the Great Depression that started in 1929. It didn't stop there, there was the death of his beloved wife, Mable, also in 1929. The project was abandoned and the empty shell of this great hotel would sit idle for many years. John Ringling himself would pass on several years later.

One of the remaining Whitney Beach Cottages
Progress Continues - One of the remaining Whitney Beach cottages on the Longboat Key Arts Center site was moved to make way for a new development. A new Arts Center behind the Publix is in development.

One of the first developments on the island began in 1935 when Gordon and Lora Whitney purchased Gulf to Bay property on Longboat Key and built 13 cottages on the northern end of island. These were resort-style properties with a tennis court for use by guests. Whitney Beach was popular and even used during WWII to house servicemen. The resort would close in 1957 and some of the cottages moved to different locations. One of the last remaining cottages was moved to the northeast corner at Gulf of Mexico Drive and Broadway Street. It will be repurposed as a Longboat Key historical museum and greeting center for visitors entering from Bradenton and Anna Maria Island.

Longboat Key would make modest gains in the years following, certainly not at the fervor pace that Ringling had set. Development was slow to a point that even in 1942 the U.S. Air Force saw the barren land on Longboat Key and determined it would be a great location for use as 50-caliber target practice at the beginning of World War II. For a few hours a day P-40 aircraft would strafe the mid-section of the island in their practice sessions.

The town had seen moderate growth following the war and the town would vote to incorporate in November 1955 by nearly a unanimous vote of nearly 100 citizens. Eight commissioners were elected that day, the Honorable Wilfred LaPage was selected among them as the first mayor of Longboat Key. The anniversary is next week.

Longboat Key was to see its next growth spurt. Arthur Vining Davis, with his namesake company by combining the first two letters of his name, Arvida Corporation, made a major investment in Longboat Key by buying up Ringling property holdings from Bird Key to mid-Longboat Key. In the years following the 1958 purchase, the 91-year old Davis with his corporation made great strides in the development of Longboat Key. It was a modern era of growth.

Under Arvida's commitment, Bird Key was forming from a small area of land to a tropical island of well-planned canals and streets. Dredging and land fill expanded the land mass from 12 acres to 250 acres by the early 1960s. Stately homes were built to attract celebrities. The Bird Key Yacht Club was formed in 1959 to become a center post of activity. Today Bird Key is a family-oriented community where you can visit with neighbors on the street, walk your pet or take a relaxing ride on a bike in this gated community.

Arvida was also responsible for the development of Country Club Shores on the south end of the island with its series of canals with direct access to the bay. Arvida was responsible for much of the Bay Isles development, with communities that were distinctly different from each other. Bay Isles is a gated set of communities and its owners have deeded access to the Bay Isles Beach Club. Grand Bay, with its six buildings on the bay is a prime example of this luxury development. Fairway and Marina Bay offer similar lifestyles. Corey’s Landing has its villas with maintenance-free living. Next door is Queens Harbour with single and two-story upscale homes.

New Guard Gate
Longboat Key Club - The old guard gate to Longboat Club Road is in the foreground of the new entrance structure under construction by Ocean Properties

Arvida soon began one of its biggest projects where the abandoned Ritz-Carlton hotel started by Ringling sat deteriorating. It demolished the structure in 1964 and started its plans for the Longboat Key Club where the degrading structure stood. An 18-hole golf course was built near the structure. The Longboat Key Club is now comprised of two championship golf courses, marina in a protected harbor, tennis courts and fine restaurants. Ocean Properties purchased the resort in 2012 and plans are underway to expand with hotels and family residences, discussed in this REALTALKplus™ article.

The Colony Beach and Tennis Resort was also beginning its rise in the 1960s. It would grow to become one of the world’s renown centers for training rising stars in professional tennis. Celebrities gathered there to relax. George Bush stayed at the resort on September 10, 2001 before attending a class demonstration at Booker Elementary School the next day. It was there that he was informed of the hijacking of American airplanes. The Colony fell into bankruptcy and eventually closed in 2010.

Longboat Observer update
Colony Beach & Tennis Resort - Developers faced with obstacles to develop the abandoned property.

But the Colony may rise again. The Orlando company, Unicorp National under its president, Chuck Whittall, have plans to demolish the existing buildings to build a set of 78 luxury residences and a 166-room hotel on the site. Many of the buildings have been taken down, but Unicorp faces some legal hurdles with ownership rights of some units. The completed resort will be run by St. Regis, which manages some of the top hotels in the world and is part of the discussion in this REALTALKplus™ article.

This new growth helps to spurt some luxury home sales, including four new listings last week. Three qualify as Coldwell Banker Global Luxury properties for their price and luxury features. 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 Mourning Dove Drive $2,495,000 Video Photo Slideshow
1465 Hillview Drive $1,995,000 Video Photo Slideshow
260 N. Shore Rd, #4 $1,695,000   Photo Slideshow
519 Bayview Drive $849,000 Video Photo Slideshow


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


Spotlight- Golden Gate Point

by Roger Pettingell


History leads up to a Point resurgence

Wonderful location with splendid Ringling Bridge views

The Phoenix, completed in 2001
Spectacular views - Nighttime view of the Ringling Bridge from a residence in the Phoenix.

When the most current Downtown Community Redevelopment Authority report came out on June 15, the small peninsula of land known as Golden Gate Point was added as an addendum. After all, it is in downtown Sarasota and secondly, it is seeing its own redevelopment. New communities such as the recently completed ONE88 and the one deep in construction that is Aqua, are to be followed by plans of other communities on this area of land barely larger than a city park. The point is once again one of the most sought after residential locations in Sarasota.

Golden Gate Point is rich in history, mostly through the original efforts of two men that had visions for Sarasota. John Ringling owned the land in its earliest of days, a small strip of land with little development. After the sale to Owen Burns in 1910, the point saw its first development. Burns dredged the bay and began to fill in the strip to increase its size, a process that would not be allowed today. He installed a seawall to encase the peninsula. These two men were the driving forces behind the growth for Sarasota to become a journey for all northerners to vacation and eventually look to retire.

In the 1920s progress accelerated. The name was changed from Cedar Point to its current name. Ringling remained involved and together the two men built a bridge connecting Lido Key and Bird Key to the mainland through the middle of Golden Gate Point. Fast forward to 2003 when the bridge completed its second reconstruction, with its current connection point as an extension to Gulf Stream Avenue. The name John Ringling Causeway remained but credit was also given to an activist that lobbied for the fixed-span bridge and a secondary name of Gil Waters Bridge was added as a compromise in 2008. Today the bridge is a spectacle in itself, particularly for owners of residences on the west side of Golden Gate Point who enjoy views of the bridge at sunset.

But soon after the original bridge was built, Sarasota and the country began facing rough times. Over-speculation of land in Florida sent a signal to Wall Street, one reason for stocks plummeting. The stock market crash in 1929 led to the Great Depression. Ringling’s beloved wife Mable died that year. Property lots on Golden Gate Point were unsold and progress was halted. Ringling lost most of his money in these hard times and he abandoned some of the projects he was passionate about. He eventually died in 1936 and placed in a temporary storage facility as a pauper in New Jersey. His and Mable’s body were eventually returned to Sarasota and they now rest together on the Ringling Museum of Art grounds.

Majestic Bay and Aqua on Golden Gate Point
The Majestic on the left was completed in 2004. Next to it is Aqua, nearing completion. Click on the image for Golden Gate Point condos for sale.

Today Golden Gate Point is thriving again. Single-family homes mostly line the interior of Golden Gate Point Road that circles the peninsula. Outside on the coast of these 22 acres of land is excitement toward new construction with existing mid-rise condominiums. In 1973 Sarasota limited the heights of buildings on Golden Gate Point to 75 feet. ONE88 was completed this year with eight residences of contemporary style on five storys. The new Aqua building with an expected October move-in date is eight storys with one residence per floor. These two buildings face an incredible night view of the Ringling Bridge and the luxury homes on Bird Key.

At least two more are on the drawing boards. Allure at 111 Golden Gate Point on the interior of the loop will be a unique set of four-story townhomes with a three-car garage and patios on the first floor. Level two is called Seduction and features a gourmet kitchen overlooking the living room and Junior Master Suite. The master and third bedroom are on a split-floor plan of the third floor, fascination. The fourth floor has an entertainment area and options for spa or pool on the outdoor patio. The three buildings and 11 residences are before the planning commission to be issued a permit shortly. Also on the interior, Golden Gate Point Ventures, LLC have applied for a site permit for 609 Golden Gate, approved in June. The plans are for eight residences in a four-story building.

There is an association of owners on the peninsula to help foster its beauty. Formed in 1955 the Golden Gate Point Association is a non-profit with voluntary membership. The group holds regular meetings and social events. What a great place to live. It is within walking distance to most of downtown Sarasota.

My most recent lifestyle preset search was created for properties on Golden Gate Point. Click here for a list of the current residences for sale there. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for more information on Golden Gate Point condominiums or if you have a property to sell or buy.

Harbor Acres - Sarasota community spotlight

by Roger Pettingell

Sarasota's eclectic gem overlooking the bay

Inspired city leaders of the 1930s helped form Harbor Acres

Aerial view of Harbor Acres in Sarasota
Harbor Acres from the air - Waterfront dockage exists on many homes of Harbor Acres. Click on the image above to see the video in REALTALK™ #56.

Developed from dredging of Sarasota Bay, Harbor Acres was formed with two peninsulas that extend into the bay, creating a boater’s paradise with deep water access to the bay and the Gulf of Mexico. This prestigious community overlooks Bird Key, which ironically was also created from dredging projects by some of the great city planners of the day. To the north, the structure of the Ringling Bridge can been seen through a panoramic view with all of its magnificence. All three of these projects were centered around the 1920s real estate depression in Florida that preceded the Great Depression, after the 1929 stock market crash and world financial crisis.

While the infamous John Ringling and Owen Burns were developing the land between mainland Sarasota and Longboat Key, Sarasota mayor Earnest A. Smith had his goal for enriching the city through opportunities created by the depression. Soon after the stock market plummeted, nature created another disaster in hurricane form that devastated Sarasota. The combination of the two initiated a trip to Washington by Smith in an effort to solicit funds under the New Deal and its “Alphabet Soup” programs created in the first hundred days of President Roosevelt's administration. At the time land was cheaply available as owners were unable to pay back loans, drastically dropping their value. Washington was convinced that Sarasota required Federal help to rebuild, and Smith returned to Sarasota with WPA funds to update public utilities and purchase the inexpensive land. He was also given funds to buy land and build a civic center, now the site of the Municipal Auditorium on Tamiami Trail at the Boulevard of the Arts intersection.

1378 Harbor Drive, Sarasota, FL
Many homes in Harbor Acres are new construction such as this new listing on Harbor Drive.

Smith had aspirations for the southern sections of Sarasota and wanted to expand to the area “West of the Trail.” Sarasota Memorial Hospital had been built in 1925 and the area toward the bay was ideal for the doctors of the hospital to build their homes. He served the citizens of Sarasota as mayor from 1931-1937 with an accomplished resume of projects that would inspire the next generation of city leaders. The city would soon change its charter in the 1940s to form a Commission-Manager form of government that holds true to today. A mayor is not directly elected by the people but a panel of five commissioners. At the time cities were evolving to avoid the corruption that was created under other administrations such as Tammany Hall of New York City.

The impetus for Harbor Acres was picked up again after World War II. Some of the first homes that were built in the late 1940s are still in existence today and because it is close to the hospital it was once referred to as Doctors Acres. Doctors still reside here, either as attending physicians or as retirees. The composition of different styles bring together old and new Florida for a quaint community that is preferred for its limited restrictions on deeds. Harbor Acres is also attractive to home buyers as it is close to the rich cultural life of Sarasota, fabulous dining, recreation and boutique shopping experiences.

REALTALK #56 - Harbor Acres
REALTALK™ #56 - Harbor Acres is spotlighted.

In REALTALK™ #56 last week I talked about the evolution of Harbor Acres and its transition to new construction with waterfront and luxury garden homes. Many of the homes here are now built to newer building codes and have many modern conveniences. Waterfront homes in Harbor Acres typically have boat docks and pools with square footage starting at 3,500. There was a sale recently of an updated home of 1,775 square feet, an original 1954 home on Orange Avenue that is the eastern-most boundary road of Harbor Acres. Because these homes are in high demand it was on the market six days. Even homes on the lower end of the scale in this community go quickly. I do not expect that the home I have listed at 1378 Harbor Drive on the water will stay on the market long either. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 if you would like a tour or have a property to sell or buy in Sarasota or Longboat Key. Click here for active listings in Harbor Acres.

Sarasota New Construction Updates

by Roger Pettingell

Projects Moving Forward in the Area

Sarasota Downtown CRA Report Updated

Sarasota Downtown Community Redevelopment Area (CRA)
Sarasota Downtown Community Redevelopment Authority Area (CRA) with 29 new projects in construction or development mapped out.

I hope your holiday season is a good one. This is the last week of the year and my last Monday article for the year. It’s good we end 2014 on a high note with the new construction of condominiums in Sarasota and on Longboat Key.

Sarasota released its current status this month for the Downtown Community Redevelopment Area (CRA), approximately one square mile of land area. There are 29 projects over one half of a million dollars within the boundary that begins at 10th Street on the north, with many of the projects between Pineapple Avenue on the east to Sarasota Bay on the west. These are projects that are currently in construction or in development and reflect a total estimated cost of one half a billion dollars.

This area represents a bonanza for residential purchases, unlike anything we have seen since 2006. The estimate is that there will 1,434 new residential condominiums and townhouses when all the projects are completed. The update also reported nearly 1,000 rental apartments, over 1,000 hotel rooms and over a quarter million square feet of commercial space will be added in this downtown area.

The first completion date is the fall of 2015 when the Jewel is expected to be ready for occupancy. The Jewel is an 18-story commercial high-rise with 19 residential condominiums for sale at the corner of Main Street and Gulfstream Avenue, within a short walking distance to the water’s edge and Marina Jack, next to Café Epicure.

The "Vue Sarasota Bay", near the Ritz-Carlton on this high profile plot of land at Route 41 is well under way with 141 residences expected upon completion in the winter of 2016. The CRA also reported the Quay, an amazing undertaking near Vue Sarasota Bay. It was announced this month that an agreement with developers GreenPointe Communities of Jacksonville requires a completion date of January 30, 2017 for the Quay with plans for 175 hotel rooms, 38,972 square feet of office space and 189,050 square feet of commercial space. The mostly 15-acre vacant land has been the subject of foreclosures and speculation. Moving forward the Quay will be a major project that will include 695 residential condominiums

ONE88 Residences on Golden Gate Point in construction
ONE88 Residences - Eight residences are in process on Golden Gate Point overlooking Sarasota Bay.

ONE88 Residences overlooking the John Ringling Causeway bridge and Sarasota Bay is nearest completion, possibly in March of 2015. It is located on Golden Gate Point and not included in the CRA report. However, it is also within a short walk to Marina Jack, downtown restaurants, shopping and nightlife of Sarasota. Its eight condominiums start at $2.59 million for a suite over 3,000 square feet under air. Two penthouse suites offer 575 square feet of west balcony square footage on the fourth floor and a rooftop area of 1,657 square feet, for a total of 5,447. A community pool with deck extends out to the Sarasota Bay and boat docks. Sunset views should be stunning when ONE88 Residences is completed.

December also was witness to the groundbreaking of INFINITY on Longboat Key. Architect Mark Sultana in Sarasota led the design of 11 residences at 4765 Gulf of Mexico Drive expected to be completed in January of 2016. Three and four bedroom units starting at 3,380 square feet of living space, with two penthouses of 6,370 square feet are for sale and can be purchased through our office.

Construction of the Aria at 2251 Gulf of Mexico Drive is also proceeding on the grounds of the historic Villa am Meer estate, a home built in 1935 by the architect of the Ringling Museum of Art. Nearly one million will be spent to restore the home as a club for the residents of the 16 condominiums now under construction.

The new construction provides an exciting time for downtown Sarasota and keys residential development. It is another step in fulfilling the dreams of John Ringling and Owen Burns, who collaborated in the 1920s to establish this area for major land development. Look for more updates to the developments planned in Sarasota and on Longboat Key.

I have over $67.5 million in residential sales for 2014. Let me put my experience to work for you, call me today for your exclusive tour, (941) 387-1840. We wish you and your family the best for the holidays and happy new year.

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.