I’ve had my eye on Boca Royale down in Englewood for several years now, mainly because of the architecture. It’s a sort of Bermuda-Georgian, formal yet tropical, and a nice change from the Mediterrean Revival of just about all the new developments. So I made a special trip there this weekend, to get a more in-depth perspective of the place.
Dating back to 1977, Boca Royale is a 1,000-acre development in South Sarasota County, gated, with a golf course, lots of lakes and wetlands. It currently has about 400 homes, but it’s my understanding that Neal Communities—very good local builders—have taken over the place and have plans to develop even more of it. It reminded me of The Oaks, the hyper-upscale community in Osprey, and though Boca Royale doesn’t have the prestige or lavish scale of The Oaks, it’s a great choice if you want something like that, only much more affordable.
1732 Grande Park Drive
High ceilings and lots of light in the living room.
How affordable is it? I looked at two homes. The first (1732 Grande Park Drive) I would have guessed was around $700,000. It was a “low-maintenenance” 2,868 square-foot home with three bedrooms and three baths. It’s built around a courtyard with a pool (too small for laps, unfortunately) and there is a separate yet attached guest suite. The rooms are large and very well done, the kitchen is great, and, frankly, I would have moved in in a heartbeat. The price: $539,900, a pleasant surprise. Contact Bob Linthicum (Premiere Sotheby’s) at (941) 228-9206.
29 St. John Blvd.
Enormous master bedroom.
The pool faces a nature preserve.
The next one (29 St. John Blvd.) was not quite as big and fancy and new (it was built in 1997), but in many ways I liked it even better. It was the perfect home for someone up north who wants to come down for the winter and play golf and go the beach. With three bedrooms and two baths in about 2,200 square feet, it seemed the perfect size for a couple with visiting grandchildren. The living room had very high ceilings and looked out on a pool that you could swim laps in and bordered on a particularly nice nature preserve. It had everything you needed, yet none of those silly extras that cost you money and never use. Biggest plus: great light and atmosphere. It’s priced at $449,000. Call Herbert Furniss or Marlene Brown at (941) 497-8363.
What is living in Englewood like? First of all, Boca Royale is only four miles from Manasota Key, with its great beach and old Florida atmosphere. The everyday shopping is fine; specialty shopping not so much. I find the cityscapes of the area bland but there are little pockets of prettiness and Boca Royale itself was full of well-landscaped vistas and lakes. I wouldn’t want to commute to Sarasota every day—with no traffic you can get to the southern edge in half an hour—but if you only come once or twice a week, it’s no problem. Its best feature is that it’s off the beaten path and quasi-undiscovered. And check out the cute little beach towns like Englewood Beach.
You’ve probably been looking at the pictures and thinking, “Bermuda-Georgian architecture? What’s he talking about?” Well, that’s the tragedy of Boca Royale. The early homes are built in that style but the new ones, while very nice, could be in any good development in the state of Florida. I guess they sell better, but still—can’t we have a little variety?