There's still a trace of Old Florida in this island town.
By Robert Plunket
Click here to see our Real Estate Junkie on TV discussing terrific Terra Ceia.
Old rural Florida is getting harder and harder to find, but there is still a beautiful piece of it up in Terra Ceia. Located just north of Palmetto and just south of the Skyway bridge, Terra Ceia is technically an island about three miles long and about one mile wide, connected to the mainland by three short bridges.
The timeline goes way back here; there are Indian mounds, and the place has been inhabited for thousands of years. Its immediate heritage is agricultural, although lately it’s become a place for well-to-do people to build large Key West-style homes on big plots of land. What makes it different from all the farm land east of the Interstate is that it’s surrounded by water protected from development as part of an aquatic preserve. The boating, fishing and water views are among the best in the state. It’s so peaceful and charming that it’s hard to believe it’s in the middle of Tampa Bay. There are no gated communities, no over-development, no shopping (just a gas station), and everywhere you look are the remnants of old Florida—the old schoolhouse, the post office, the Baptist Church.
Terra Ceia still has many of the old families that have been here for generations. The newer residents tend to commute to St. Pete or Tampa. It’s an easy trip down to Bradenton; Sarasota is a bit further but still doable, particularly if you don’t have to be in the office every day.
You can find some cute little houses for under $200,000, but most of the Terra Ceia homes are much bigger and seem to be built for large families that want the kids raised in an old-fashioned atmosphere and where Dad is a serious boater.
560 Bayshore Drive
This house dates back to the 1920s and is one of the landmarks of Terra Ceia. It’s got three bedrooms, two baths, and just under 2,500 square feet. The interior has been nicely remodeled and updated, but the old Florida feeling is still very much in evidence. It’s right off the water and priced at $1,199,000.
This home is more typical of what’s on the market these days. It’s set on over five acres, and while not directly on the water, it has water views from the upper stories. It’s a short sale and priced at just under a million.
And here is my favorite. Located at 31 Boots Point Road, it’s a 1974 home built on a spectacular half acre of land, with picture-perfect views of the water, stretching off to the Skyway bridge. The home itself is nice, about 2,000 square feet, a little smaller and less grand than most of its neighbors, but the setting, views and total privacy make it a real find. All this for $799,000.
Although I didn’t plan it this way, all these homes are listed by Mary Helen Kermode of Re/Max. She’s lived in Terra Ceia for 30 years and can be reached at (941) 758-7777. And don’t miss the Terra Ceia Mullet Smoke-Off on Nov. 8. It’s the perfect opportunity to learn more about this unique part of Florida, plus eat a lot of mullet.