Archives March, 2009

Longboat Key: Off The Beaten Track

If you’ve only seen Longboat Key from Gulf of Mexico Drive, you’ve missed most of it.  The true Longboat experience is found off the beaten track; along its canopied side streets, fishing its bays and bayous, and kayaking through the maze of mangrove tunnels that pass through such vintage north key neighborhoods as Longboat Village and Bayou Hammock.  The lifestyle choices—as quickly become (more…)

Bucking The Herd

Two of the greatest minds to ever invest in the markets Warren Buffett and the late Sir John Templeton differed immensely in their personal styles, but agreed wholeheartedly in their approach to investing. Both strongly eschew the herd mentality, believing that you can never beat the herd by following it.

Buffett, of course, is well known for his rather blunt opinion of running with the bulls: “Be fearful when others are greedy, he says. “And greedy only when others are fearful.” Similarly, Sir John was famous for cautioning investors to sell at the moment of maximum risk and buy at the point of maximum opportunity. He believed in paying close attention to the market’s emotional continuum before investing. Chart A often causes an eureka moment for many new or reluctant investors. Entitled The Cycle of Market Emotions, it pertains to timing or mistiming the markets based on the herd’s emotional pitch at any given time; and is spot-on relative to today’s real estate and financial markets.



Siesta Key: Where It’s All About the Beach

Visit New York and you’re likely to return home humming a Broadway tune. Visit Sarasota and you may depart singing the praises of Siesta Key, who’s renowned Crescent Beach is perennially ranked among America’s ten best by Dr. Stephen Leatherman—better known to coastline connoisseurs as “Dr. Beach.”  With what must surely be the world’s finest sun-bleached sand, Crescent Beach could scarcely offer a more spectacular calling card for the eight-mile long barrier island.  From its northern end, the powdery-white beach stretches two miles south to the outcropping of flat, smooth limestone and coral rock formations known as “Point of Rocks,” a popular gathering spot for snorkelers and fishermen.

These days you’re just as apt to leave Siesta Key singing the praises of something else; something of rare but fleeting beauty—the incredibly-priced buying opportunities that (for now) exist in virtually every segment of Sarasota’s most multi-faceted resort setting.   We say “for now” because, as everyone is well aware, prices have fallen dramatically and increased activity at every price point has confident buyers scooping up the island’s best buys like so many fish in a net.



Longboat Key Home is Largest Sale in Sarasota Area Since April 2008


SARASOTA, Florida—(March 4, 2009)—In what amounted to the largest single residential sale in the Sarasota Area in nearly a year, a beachfront estate on Longboat Key closed yesterday for $7.125 million.  The property at 5871 Gulf of Mexico Drive, originally listed for $10.5 million in mid-September, went under contract in just over four months. Christina Landry, of the St. Armands Circle office of Michael Saunders & Company brought the buyer to the sale.   Reid Murphy was the listing agent for the property.

Prior to yesterday’s closing, the largest residential sale in the past year was an $8 million beachfront home at 4067 Shell Road—on Siesta Key—listed by Kim and Michael Ogilvie of the Main Street office of Michael Saunders & Company.

The gated, 1.2 acre Longboat Key estate that sold yesterday includes 7,046 square feet under air.  It was completed in 2008 and includes a private two-bedroom guest house with loft, accessible from the main house by a covered walkway.  The main home has five bedrooms, a 40-foot beach-entry pool on the beach level and an upstairs pool on the magnificent logia level.


Casey Key: The Rainbow’s End

Casey Key is one of those pleasantly unexpected places where your first impression, almost from the moment your front tires roll onto the island, could easily be summed-up by the legendary cinematic understatement of 1939: “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

No sooner do you cross the historic Blackburn Point Swing Bridge—which has linked the north end of Casey Key to the town of Osprey since 1925—than you realize the only real similarity between Casey and its more familiar cousins to the north, Siesta and Longboat, is the word “Key” in their names. Each of these islands has its own extraordinary ambiance, with Casey being one of breathtaking tropical seclusion amid an atmosphere of unmistakable affluence. It’s impossible to travel its eight mile length without uttering the word “wow” at least a dozen times.

At some places along the key you can easily lob a seashell across the entire width of the island. At others you’ll spot some of the Gulf Coast’s most splendid residential compounds stretching luxuriously from gulf to bay; their sumptuous environs buffered by acres of lush native landscape. Let there be no doubt, if you live in the estate section of Casey Key—which is to say most of the island—you’ve definitely “arrived.” Although several well-known people have homes on Casey Key, what makes it so desirable is not who lives there, but why so many successful people from all walks of life opt for this small, secluded jewel box of an island.

Is Casey Key secluded? Definitely.Is it isolated? Not at all. All the conveniences and attractions of Sarasota are just a few miles north; the pleasures and conveniences of downtown Venice just a few minutes south. Both are easily accessed from the key’s two bridges, with the much newer Albee Road Drawbridge linking the mainland to the key’s southern end.

Gracing Nokomis Beach, just in from the drawbridge, is the superbly restored Nokomis Beach Pavilion, a fine example of the famed Sarasota School of Architecture; and one of the first major works by architect Jack West, who also designed Sarasota’s City Hall. Dedicated in 1956, then rehabbed and rededicated in 2008, the structure was Sarasota County’s first beach pavilion. Its thin horizontal roof lines and slender vertical supports provide a classic example of the minimalist forms associated with mid-century modern architecture; a movement in which Sarasota architects figured prominently throughout the 1940’s, ‘50’s and ‘60’s. Just south of here you’ll find North Jetty Park, where you can buy bait, fish along the jetty or enjoy a sunrise cup of coffee as you watch fishing boats head out to sea.

Less obvious than its natural beauty and splendid seclusion are the more practical reasons why Casey Key is such an inviting place to buy or build. Chief among them: Although no area in Florida has been totally immune to the on-going real estate correction, Casey Key will forever have room for only 400 properties while enforcing minimal commercial activity and a ban on high-rise structures. Most properties front the beach, the bay—or both; making Casey Key that much more of a rare and coveted commodity. Because the eight-mile strand of properties can never get longer, sprawl inland or soar upward, demand for Casey Key properties has itself soared upward in recent years compared with Sarasota County’s other barrier islands.

Since 2000, 68 single-family homes valued from $3 million and above have sold on Casey Key; 40 of them in only the past four years (2005-2008). Compare this to just 18 single-family home sales over the past four years on Lido/St. Armands Key, 25 on Longboat Key, 35 on Siesta Key and 18 on Bird Key and you can see how demand for Casey Key’s limited supply of properties has significantly outpaced its much larger sister islands. And since prices have essentially corrected back to where they were in 2002/2003—before the boom—today’s buyer is that much closer to enjoying a resumption in normalized property appreciation.

If you approach the island from the south bridge you can jump right into the spirit of the key by stopping for a casual waterfront meal at either one of the two restaurants that occupy the east bank of the Intracoastal Waterway.You’ll find Pop’s Sunset Grill and Pelican Alley Restaurant just to your left as you approach the Albee Road Drawbridge. On the north end, the Casey Key Fish House is just to your left after you cross the Blackburn Point Swing Bridge. Each is a revered neighborhood establishment where fresh seafood rules the menu, water rules the view and the ambiance is decidedly old-Florida casual. Directly across from the Fish House is Casey Key’s very own, privately run, not-for-profit library.

The words “old Florida casual” truly sum-up the Casey Key experience. Sure there are grand new homes at nearly every bend in the road, but they co-exist rather nicely with the island’s vintage homes and classic beach bungalows; as if it was somehow meant to be like this. The many different styles of homes—stretching from one end of the key to the other—are thread together by Casey Key Road, a quaint two-lane thoroughfare where you best be watchful for oncoming traffic, cyclists and pedestrians. You’ll want to idle along slowly anyway to feast on the homes and chew the fabulous old-Florida scenery, especially where canopies of green suddenly make way for a drive along the azure shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico. Toto, stop the car. This is the rainbow’s end.

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