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NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH SPARKLING SAPPHIRE SHORES Sapphire Shores, meandering along the bay south of the Ringling Museum, is one of Sarasota’s oldest established neighborhoods. In this highly sought-after part of town, historically significant homes from the 1920s abut brand-new multimillion-dollar waterfront mansions. Homeowners are an eclectic group of retirees, students, young families, politicians, attorneys, doctors and […]


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NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH

SPARKLING SAPPHIRE SHORES

Sapphire Shores, meandering along the bay south of the Ringling Museum, is one of Sarasota’s oldest established neighborhoods. In this highly sought-after part of town, historically significant homes from the 1920s abut brand-new multimillion-dollar waterfront mansions. Homeowners are an eclectic group of retirees, students, young families, politicians, attorneys, doctors and first-time homebuyers. Neighbors keep keys for each other, invite each other over for dinner, stage an annual potluck picnic and meet at sunset at the popular waterfront park to discuss current events. Sapphire Shores dwellers describe themselves as close-knit, pet-friendly and completely involved in the Sarasota scene.

NUMBER OF SAPPHIRE SHORES PROPERTIES: 185
NUMBER OF SALES 10/2004-10/2005: 17
RANGE OF SALE PRICES 10/2004-10/2005: $280,000-$3.05 million
AVERAGE SALE PRICE 10/2004-10/2005: $1,017,500
RANGE OF SQUARE FOOTAGE: 1,136-5,000 square feet

SAMPLE LISTING

This four-bedroom home at 360 North Shore Drive is on the market for $775,000. Built in 1957, the house has been updated with stainless steel appliances, granite counters, maple cabinetry, ceramic tile floors and a heated pool with Jacuzzi. Vaulted ceilings and a spacious floor plan make entertaining easy, and fruit trees shade a very private back yard. Bernard Bismuth of RE/MAX Suncoast Realty is the listing agent.

SAMPLE SALE

A three-bedroom, three-bath home at 405 Sapphire Drive sold recently for $1.1 million following a list price of $1,248,000. The 3,100-square-foot residence, built in the 1950s, has beautiful views of the bay and a swimming pool. David Jennings of Prudential Palms Realty was the selling agent. Previous sale: $255,000 in July 1998.

MLS statistics courtesy of Pat Taylor of ERA Mount Vernon Realty. MLS records transactions and listings by members of the Sarasota Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service.

Top of the Market

A Gulf-to-Bay Nokomis residence at 1704 Casey Key Road captures the highest residential sale this month with a price tag of $6.7 million. List price was $6.9 million. Panoramic water views surround the 6,436-square-foot home, which has an open floor plan, gourmet kitchen and lavishly appointed library. Luxury finishes include marble floors, custom built-ins, fireplace and faux painting throughout the house. Balconies afford views of both sunsets and sunrises with fabulous fishing from the dock and a private white sand beach. Margo MacKenzie of Tom Nay Real Estate was the selling agent and Nick Herron of RE/MAX was the listing agent.

Sales information provided by Kim Ogilvie of Michael Saunders & Company.

SINGING THE PRAISES OF DOWNTOWN "The lights are much brighter there. You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares and go.downtown."

As in Petula Clark’s hit song, a palpable excitement surrounds downtown Sarasota. Where else can one walk over to the boat dock in the morning, the office in the afternoon and the Opera House in the evening?

Is there a downside? Only inventory, asserts Klaus Lang of Michael Saunders & Company. "Supply is scarce," he says, "and yet people still keep coming. Some realtors spend much of their time trying to find properties for their buyers."

Lang currently has one downtown listing at Beau Ciel, priced at $1,995,000, and he’s convinced it will not last. It offers sweeping views of the marina, bridges and downtown. Award-winning interior designer Raymond Boorstein has created a contemporary masterpiece with custom-designed furniture, state-of-the-art illumination, exquisite appointments and a collection of original works by international artists that will be sold with the residence, including pop art by Peter Max, paintings by Janet Forrester Ngala of Australia, drawings by Roberto Cammozzo, pottery by Walter Yovaish and ceramics by Flavio Polo. The condo fairly glitters with glass master Euo Ramaeli’s blown glassware and solid glass sculptures, Roman Dona’s gorgeous glass fish, Floris Meydam’s crystal creations and sculptures by Leslie Ann Joiner and Vivarini. The condo was decorated to exemplify the best of contemporary living in Sarasota, says Lang, and some lucky buyer will be instantly surrounded with a wealth of beautiful treasures.

ALL VIEW, ALL NEW There are bayfront condos, and then there are condos that are truly right on Sarasota Bay. A penthouse at Condo on the Bay at 988 Boulevard of the Arts fits the latter category, offering nothing but water views from the moment you step through the front door.

"Buyers need to be aware of the differences between various categories of waterfront properties," explains listing agent Kim Ogilvie of Michael Saunders & Company. "A condominium described as waterfront is not necessarily touching the shoreline. Similarly, a residence may offer water views but not be located directly on the Gulf or the bay. Highest value is in the condo we refer to as a category one, which means the dwelling and property it sits on are directly adjacent to water, with nothing between the residences and the water. Condo on the Bay offers just that."

Aside from its prime location, Ogilvie’s listing is sleekly modern, with Italian designer finishes that rival residences in New York and Los Angeles. The 1,555-square-foot penthouse was completely gutted for a massive renovation that includes new maple floors, new walls, raised 10-foot ceilings, state-of-the-art kitchen and floor-to-ceiling glass windows. The list price is $1,195,000. "This is a rare jewel," says Ogilvie.

STORM WARNING Andrew Bers of Prudential Palms Realty sold a spectacular home on Longboat Key to a couple that summers in Chicago. With hurricanes threatening Florida, Bers received a telephone call from the wife requesting that he stop by the house and prepare their estate for the coming storm. "She was not concerned in the least about the house itself, nor any of the furnishings," explained Bers. "All she asked was that I tuck in the lace dust ruffle decorating the master bed so that if water surged through the house, it would be spared."

ORCHID BEACH CLUB When Sarasota-based developer U.S. Assets Group began construction of Orchid Beach Club in January 2004, partners Tom Brown and Jay Tallman announced that they would complete the luxury Lido Key condominium in August 2005. They could not have anticipated that 2004 would bring four hurricanes, 60 inches of rain and critical shortages of labor and materials thanks to an unprecedented construction boom. Nevertheless, they closed the first unit of the twin-tower residences at the end of August and closed on 51 of the 54 homes before mid-October. "We met schedule and delivered these homes to our buyers exactly as promised," says Tallman. "We’re very proud of that."

Located on the pristine white sand beach at the secluded southern end of Lido Key, Orchid Beach Club residences range from 2,936 to 6,200 square feet in two 11-story towers. These elegant homes overlook the Gulf of Mexico, twinkling city lights and Sarasota Bay. Units sold for an average price of more than $2 million with two penthouse residences selling for $4.6 million and $4.8 million each. A 13,000-square-foot amenity level provides social, fitness and spa privileges. At press time, three units were still available and listed with Michael Saunders & Company.

BIRD KEY BEAUTY Bird Key offers prime boating water, a good mix of families and couples, and a thriving yacht club. And buyers chomping at the bit do not need to wait a year for new construction or buy an older residence and live through the renovation. Linda A. Page of Prudential Palms Realty has just the house. "This is not a teardown," says Page, "but a move-in where the homeowner will immediately start enjoying the Sarasota lifestyle."

The three-bedroom, four-bath house, built is 1972, has been completely redone, from custom crown moldings and gourmet kitchen to lighted landscaping and beautiful lawns and gardens. "For any buyer who is specifically zeroed in on Bird Key," says Page, "this might be just the thing." The floor plan is a free-flowing, open space featuring windows and doors that open to pool, patio and beyond to the deep, protected waters of Sarasota Bay. The back yard boasts more than 121 feet of waterfront, with a 75-foot dock and boat lift. Curb appeal is strong, and the original architectural "good bones" are apparent. "This home’s exterior is a classic design," say Page, "and the style works as well today as it did 30 years ago." The property is priced at $2.49 million.

GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER? And speaking of Linda A. Page, the veteran real estate agent is charming and social and quite adept at making small talk with homeowners while her buyers look around. But when she walked through the door of the lovely condo she was showing to a young couple recently, Page knew something was amiss.

"We walked right in to the middle of an elegant dinner party," says Page. "The hosts greeted us very graciously and hastened to make us feel welcome, so we joined in, for a time. But I was genuinely puzzled as to why the sellers were entertaining at home when we had arranged to show their residence."

Delicately, Page steered the conversation to matters of real estate. Now it was the hosts’ turn to become confused. "They informed me that their condo was not for sale," laughs Page. "The condo I was supposed to show was next door. I had the lockbox code but always knock first and had inadvertently knocked on the wrong door. The hosts had invited friends of their honored guests to dinner, some of whom they had never met. When we knocked, they just assumed we were those people. The fact that we temporarily joined their party was embarrassing but also hilarious."

JUST DUCKY Tucked off South Orange Avenue on the very quiet Mallard Lane, a property with views of Sarasota Bay that is listed by Vision Realty offers the potential buyer a couple of options. The 1,531-square-foot home on the oversized lot was built in 1967 and recently updated for an "as is" sale price of $895,000. Or, for $1.85 million, Vision Homes of Southwest Florida will raze the existing structure and build a brand-new, 4,300-square-foot traditional Mediterranean home with tiled roof and three-car garage. "A lot of people who live in Sarasota have never seen this street," explains Brandy Coffey of Vision Realty, "since you have to take Orange to Oriole and then drive on Oriole to Mallard. It is sort of a hidden treasure, and with local building costs soaring to $700 and $800 per square foot, this property is an exceptional value."