Homefront - June 2003

By staff June 1, 2003

*Hometown Feeling

There's a cozy, homey neighborhood where kids can play in the park and cycle on the streets, and you don't have to go back to the 1950s to find it. U.S. Home's Heritage Harbour, located at the corner of Interstate 75 and State Road 64, backs up against the Manatee River and promises an abundance of housing styles and amenities, says spokesperson Cheray Keyes-Shima.

The master-planned community, situated on 2,500 acres, already boasts one thriving community-Stoneybrook-a gated golf community of four distinct neighborhoods, offering different housing styles and price and size ranges. All homesites overlook nature preserves or golf courses, says Keyes-Shima, and the golf clubhouse offers a variety of dining and meeting facilities.

U.S. Home is also building a recreational campus that will be open to all residents of Heritage Harbour and will include a fitness center with an on-site activities director, basketball, tennis and pool facilities-even an inline skating rink. Residents also can enjoy Central Park, a 100-acre park featuring a lake for fishing and softball and soccer fields. A marketplace is also in the works.

"The mission of the community is to create a hometown feeling for the residents of Heritage Harbour," says Keyes-Shima. "They could eventually live, work and play without ever leaving the community."

Something New, Something Old

You don't have to move to a new community to have a new home; if you work with a creative home builder, you can have a state of the art home in your comfortable old neighbourhood.

"There are many factors to consider when deciding whether to move or remodel an existing home," says Madai Ramirez of Vision Homes. "Some people are inclined towards remodeling because they love their location. They have built long-lasting relationships with neighbors, have put time and money into their landscaping, enjoy the fruits of mature trees, and their lots are larger than most standard lots found in today's newer communities."

However, the cost of remodeling to meet new construction comforts can equal that of building from scratch. Here's Ramirez's solution: "Why not put your new home on your existing lot and have both your new comforts and your old ones?" she asks. "Take out a pen and paper, write out the figures and decide what's best."

*Southern Comfort

Head south for one of the area's newest luxury communities: Fountain Court in Punta Gorda. Now under construction, the luxury gated condominium community will offer 144 units. The complex offers barrel roof tiles, center courtyards and under-building covered parking and storage facilities. Residents can have access to a 6,000-square-foot clubhouse with an exercise, computer and meeting rooms, library, kitchen, tennis and shuffleboard courts and a heated swimming pool. There are three floor plans available. Osprey is a two-bedroom, two-bath, 1,491-square-foot unit; the Cormorant is 1,711 square feet with three bedrooms and two baths, and the Ibis has 2,027 square feet. All units have lanais, ceramic tile, plush carpet, GE appliances and European-style cabinetry.

Affordable Luxury

Another newly launched southern development is Myakka Pointe at Riverwood, a 1,300-acre Centex Homes master-planned community in Port Charlotte. The community will consist of four neighborhoods among lakes, forest preserves and a golf course. Logan's Pointe is the estate home neighborhood, with prices starting in the $290,000s. Bailey's Pond has smaller single-family homes starting in the $200,000s, and Marlin Cove consists of twin villa homes priced from the $160,000s. Carriage homes are offered at Tarpon Harbour, with prices starting in the $170,000s.

In addition to the 18-hole championship golf course, residents of Myakka Pointe have access to a golf learning center and putting green, activity center with a library, fitness center and meeting room, pool, spa, tennis, and bocci and croquet courts.

As well as jogging trails through nature preserves, residents can also become members of the private Riverwood Beach Club located on Manasota Key.

Fancy Fixtures

For 25 years, AAMSCO Lighting Inc. has designed and created stunning antique and art deco light fixtures for discerning homebuyers. Now, the company has designated Light Up Your Life at 1620 N. Tamiami Trail as its exclusive Sarasota lighting distributor.

Light up Your Life is a popular destination for clients looking for something different to brighten up their homes. The shop offers a variety of high-end designer European lamps, and AAMSCO's architectural lamps with a European flair are a natural fit.

*Viking Rules

What would you rather do on a Friday night, Mark Livingood asks: Spend a couple of hours over a bottle of wine, putting together a meal with a few close friends? Or stand in line for an hour, electronic beeper in hand, waiting for a seat at a fancy restaurant? Increasingly, says Livingood, sales manager at Palmetto Appliance Distributing, people want the former, as the Food Channel makes them aware that it's possible to duplicate gourmet meals at home.

They find it, he says, in Viking Range Corporation's Professional Series (Palmetto is the Florida distributor for Viking). Livingood says people like the easy-to-use graphics, knobs and institutional feel and amenities. Viking also offers a Designer Series, which offers a softer, more contemporary look that many clients in Naples, Fort Myers and Miami seem to favor. One bonus of buying Viking is for its "design integrity." Because the corporation manufactures all kitchen appliances, from dishwashers to microwaves, refrigerators and ovens, everything in a Viking kitchen will match perfectly, down to the knobs.

*Cosmopolitan Charm

Want to live close to art galleries, theater and some of the finest restaurants in Southwest Florida? Good news: The Savoy on Palm, an exclusive new luxury condominium building, is being developed by Floria, LLC, a joint venture between P. Wallenberg Development Company, Inc. and Placida Properties, Inc.

Located on one acre on South Palm Avenue, the boutique development offers only 24 residences in 11 stories, ranging from just under $1 million to more than $3 million. From the grand circular driveway, fountain and covered entry, the entire building is designed to bathe residents in luxury, with amenities such as a 12th-level sunset terrace, a guest suite, spa, entertainment area and catering kitchen.

Each unit includes a private elevator lobby, state-of-the-art appliances, deluxe fittings and lighting, and large tiled terraces and balconies. Floor plans range from 2,975 to 3,600 square feet, with penthouses as large as 5,708 square feet.

The Savoy on Palm is designed by Curts Gaines Hall Architect Planners, Inc. and is being built by Turner Construction Company and designed by Christine Desiree Interior Design.

*Waterlefe is No. 1

Waterlefe Golf & River Club has been named the No. 1 golf club in Southwest Florida and No. 8 statewide by the readers of Florida Golf Magazine. Open just three years, the Waterlefe course was ranked with such prestigious clubs as Black Diamond, Bay Hill, Sawgrass and TPC of Prestancia.

Says Waterlefe head golf pro Frank Leahy, "We're proud that Waterlefe was able to achieve this status in just three years. And we want to give the other clubs fair notice that next year we intend to be No. 1 in the state, too!"

Waterlefe Golf & River Club, a gated community located along the Manatee River in Bradenton, offers many outdoor luxuries in addition to its 18-hole championship golf course. Amenities include a 59-dock marina with boat lift, more than 100 private docks, The Pointe-a family gathering area with lookout tower and fishing pier-and three nature trails.

*Water Features

Seems like we just can't get enough of water here in Florida. Wayne Cooper, owner of Edgewood Nursery & Stone, has noticed customers getting increasingly interested in buying water features for their gardens and homes, such as small waterfalls or patio fountains.

"Maybe it's because people aren't traveling as much and are putting dollars into their properties," Cooper muses. "We have certainly seen an increase in small fountains, waterfalls, things you put in your garden or patio. Even if it's just a small trickle of water, it's very soothing."

Cooper says most of these portable water features range between $300 and $1,000, and are small enough to be transported home in a regular vehicle and set up without any machinery. They're made of concrete and fiberglass, and produce so little splash that they can safely be used in interior spaces such as foyers. While many clients choose natural tones for their fountains, Cooper says some clients are opting to dye their water features bright colors to match their home interiors.

Luxury on Golden Gate

Golden Gate Point is one of Sarasota's loveliest vantage points from which to enjoy views of Sarasota Bay and the skyline, and soon there will be another set of balconies from which to check out the boats bobbing on the bay: Grande Riviera, developed by partners Bob Roskamp, Phil Kaltenbacher and Angus Rogers.

The condominium building will contain only 13 residences, each with private elevators, waterfront terraces, summer kitchens, tray ceilings and European hardware and hurricane-resistant glass. Units range from 2,643 square feet at $1.5 million to a 5,837-square-foot penthouse at $4.3 million.

Resort-style Living

With the "wow factor" today's new homes are packed with, there's no need to call a travel agent and book a holiday at a resort anymore. For many Southwest Floridians, home is practically a five-star resort, says Brian Pruett, president of Pruett Builders.

Some features Pruett says are especially popular with buyers of his $600,000-plus homes include steam rooms, which are now taking the place of the humble pool bath, and wine storage rooms with special insulation, doors and controls. Many homeowners make game rooms a big focus of their entertaining, and fill the rooms with game tables of all sorts, Pruett says. Especially popular is the game room/home theater combo, which includes a 100-inch descending screen and projector, and the ability to screen off a section of the room, converting the game room into an instant theater.

Mold Management

Here's a hot topic among the developers and builders nowadays, and it's not pleasant: mold.

Douglas Whitney, vice president of WBRC Architects and Engineers, says that the mold problem is one that lurks in the back of many a hapless homebuyer's mind. The trick to staving off the problem before it occurs in your home, says Whitney, is to begin the prevention process at the construction stage.

Mold occurs partly because of water vapor that seeps through the floor slab of houses and condenses (especially once the air conditioning is turned off), creating pockets of moisture in which mold thrives. Simply having a concrete floor slab is not enough, says Whitney; concrete is porous and easily allows moisture in. And some builders use a plastic sheet, which can easily deteriorate: "You're lucky if it even lasts a year," says Whitney. One of the best solutions is a substance called polyethylene, which can be placed under the floor slab. Also, opt for through-wall flashing with weepholes at regular intervals.

Closet Trends

Today's closets are bigger and brighter than ever, says Larry Hollander of Contemporary Cabinetry.

"The sticky wire racks of yesteryear have been replaced with real wood closet cabinets to complete the well-designed and organized luxury residence," says Hollander.

The wooden cabinets are often complemented by mirrored or glass doors, and a huge range of paints, stains, lacquers and polyester finishes. For technologically minded closet lovers, the new closets also often come with a variety of helpful closet gadgets and organizers. Hollander says budget-conscious people can have more than 100 colors of laminate materials to match with wood drawer fronts and doors.

Color Tips from the Pros

This season is a happy balance of the old and new and a fun mixture of colors and styles, reports Keffie Lancaster of Lancaster Humma White.

Says Lancaster: "Color is an essential in any aspect of design. Attempting to find a way to juxtapose design trends from various influences is something a good design must tackle. Be brave-use color, lots of it, and do not be shy about incorporating lots of styles and ideas from different cultures and time periods. Just know when to say when!"

Electronic Design

Come learn all about how the latest technology can change your life at the new offices of Synergy Multimedia at 1012 Orange Ave. The new location includes corporate offices, a showroom and movie theater. Here clients will be able to see multiple electronic control devices and participate in hands-on demonstrations.

Synergy is a full-service electronics systems integration company founded by Georgia Tech IT and Engineering in Atlanta, and the Sarasota office began operations in 2002. The firm has deployed many large-scale automated living environments, security and surveillance systems and an array of home theater environments.

Synergy's new neighbors also have a role to play: JKL Design Group is next door and has partnered with Synergy to complete the interior design portion of clients' needs. Another local angle: Local Luke Anderson, who grew up in the Sarasota/Bradenton area, has been named executive vice president of sales for the Sarasota office of the firm.

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