Retail Update

A rendering of The Mall at University Town Center - Sarasota, FL

A rendering of The Mall at University Town Center – Sarasota, FL

“Look at your shopping centers.  Are they going down?  Or coming back?”

With this simple query, Todd Mathes—the director of development for Benderson Development—prefaced his recent update on the retail market in Sarasota-Manatee before an audience of over 200 agents from Michael Saunders & Company.

Everyone already knew the answer, of course. For not only has the region’s explosion of new, high-quality retail been the subject of countless updates in the news media, but is also being observed closely by some of the biggest names in international luxury retailing and commercial development.

The Mall at University Town Center
Nearly all of this interest has something to do with the imminent debut of the Mall at University Town Center, Benderson Development’s latest contribution to Sarasota’s growing reputation as the best place to live, work, play—and now shop—in the State of Florida.  The mall, whose grand opening is on the calendar for October 16, is the only enclosed mall being built in the United States this year.  Moreover, its stores are being populated by some of the most sought-after names in luxury retailing and fine dining.  Indeed, The Wall Street Journal noted that Taubman Centers Inc., co-developer of the new mall, is doing “something that is rarely seen these days in the retail world: opening a new regional mall.”


1 Boat and 4 Islands in 8 Hours: Part Three – Palm Island

DSC_2462Now onto part three of my Florida island hopping adventure.

The day began almost seven hours earlier at the Cape Haze Marina where I departed with my friends from the Freedom Boat Club on a quick voyage to Useppa Island (read the first blog here). Then, we trekked to Boca Grande for lunch before being “castaway” on Little Gasparilla Island (read the second blog here).

Now, we finish out the day exploring the canals, streets, and sands of Palm Island. (more…)


1 Boat and 4 Islands in 8 Hours: Part Two – Boca Grande to Little Gasparilla


Photos by Premier Photographic Events

In my last blog post, you read about the start of my island hopping adventure with the Freedom Boat Club. We began our day at the Cape Haze Marina and voyaged to a very enchanting Useppa Island. Now, we continue the journey on to two nearby barrier islands.

Beloved Boca Grande
Within fifteen minutes of our departure from Useppa, we were floating through the captivating canals of Boca Grande, the charming community on Gasparilla Island. (more…)

The Faces of the MSC Foundation’s Mid-year Grant Giving Ceremony

All images by InstudioEphoto.

The MSC Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Michael Saunders and Company, held its mid-year grant giving ceremony on Thursday, July 17th at the company’s Lakewood Ranch location. During a period of giving from January to June 2014, MSC agents and staff raised a total of $34,250 which was distributed among 33 local nonprofit organizations.

To help provide a glimpse into how deep these efforts reach, we have compiled some images and moments from Thursday’s ceremony (all images by InstudioEPhoto): (more…)


1 Boat and 4 Islands in 8 Hours: Part One


Boating the waters of Placida Harbor

Sometimes you are so close to something that you can’t entirely understand its worth. This is never as true as it is for those of us who live in Florida and take our slice of paradise for granted. We grow complacent – never quite appreciating how turquoise the Gulf is, how easy it is to reach the beach, or the countless colors in a sunset.

And so, it was with my typical Florida-native expectations that I found myself an hour south of Sarasota ready to hop on a boat. (more…)

Parsing the Market

Aerial-DSC_7796Is the real estate market emitting mixed signals?  Or is the picture being blurred by conflicting accounts of its renewed strength?  Probably a little bit of each.

Sales Activity over Six Months
As real estate markets re-stabilize, it is not uncommon for upward spikes in monthly sales to be followed by a month or two of pared-down activity.  Such mixed results inevitably spur nervous hand-wringing among market watchers, even though it is virtually impossible to spot a developing trend over such short periods of time.  For this reason it is wiser to examine at least six consecutive months of sales activity to assess where we’ve been; as well as six months (or more) of local economic indicators to predict where we’re going.

Between January and June, residential property sales throughout Southwest Florida were up 0.44% over 2013; and were 11.3% higher than the first six months of 2012.  It is worth mentioning, however, that a flood of pent-up demand made 2013 the region’s most active year ever in terms of total properties sold—and thus a tough act to follow in any year. (more…)


New Homes Update

Record levels of buying have led to a persistent shortage of available properties in our lifestyle-rich region.  Thus the option to buy new is well worth considering—especially if you’ve ever pictured yourself living in a new home or condominium.

The New Homes & Condominium Division of Michael Saunders & Company represents a broad spectrum of the region’s newest and finest lifestyle communities, with housing options that truly run the gamut. Here is a sampling of the choices now available:

Vue Sarasota Bay

BuildingRenderingCLOSEUP.LIGHT-MLSWith construction now underway, the 18-story Vue Sarasota Bay will soon afford its residents with forever views of Sarasota Bay, the city skyline, its barrier islands; and the Gulf of Mexico.  From its prime bay front location—adjacent to the new Westin Sarasota—buyers will enjoy walkable access to downtown Sarasota’s performing arts venues, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens; and scores of first-rate restaurant and retail establishments.


Fabulous Fourth: 10 Ways to Celebrate Independence Day in Sarasota & Beyond

4th July Flag and Fireworks

From spectacular waterfront fireworks to exciting live concerts and pets on parade, there’s more than enough fun to fill your Fourth of July on Florida’s Gulf Coast. So in honor of our great nation’s birthday, we’ve rounded up 10 of the best ways to party like a patriot:

1. Start Your Engines - Fourth of July weekend in Sarasota means offshore racing! Be part of the annual festivities and one of the longest running powerboat races in history. A full weekend of events is scheduled from car and motorcycle shows to a family friendly block party. Visit here for more information.

2. Star Spangled Bayfront – Cap off a fun weekend of offshore racing with a cascading display of lights and sounds at the Bayfront Fireworks Spectacular, taking place at Sarasota Bayfront Park at 9:00 pm.



17 Reasons Why There’s Nothing Better than a Sarasota Summer

A lot can be said about summers in Florida – the most obvious being that it’s hot. And while I would certainly agree with that, I am a huge fan of being in Sarasota during the off-season. Here are 17 splendid reasons why:

1. Crazy Cool Sunsets. Our summer sunsets are truly awe-inspiring to behold. The weather patterns over our warmer months create a kind of playground in the sky. The colors and the clouds form a vibrant canvas that only Mother Nature herself can imagine.

Manasota Key

Manasota Key


The Return of the Luxury Market

This beachfront Siesta Key home just sold for $10.25 million.

This beachfront Siesta Key home just sold for $10.25 million.

When a Siesta Key property sold for $10.25 million in late May, it not only established a new benchmark for the much sought-after barrier island but also spoke volumes about the reinvigorated state of the region’s luxury real estate market.

After several years in which property sales above $1 million limped along listlessly, they are presently experiencing their best performance in Southwest Florida since the recession first took hold in late 2007.  Moreover, the Siesta Key sale signals the return of buyers for properties in the highest tiers of the region’s luxury market.

Momentum in the Marketplace

The waterfront estate—which was listed and sold by agents of Michael Saunders & Company—sold for just below its asking price, a fact that truly underscores buyer confidence in the desirability and long-term resilience of the region’s luxury real estate market.  Moreover, the sale came just days after a pair of adjacent waterfront properties in the heart of Boca Grande was sold for a combined $11.14 million by an agent from the Boca Grande office of Michael Saunders & Company.  Similar sales are pending. (more…)

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