Real Estate Gossip - June 2003

By staff June 1, 2003

Those Who Think Young

Sarasota has long been touted for pristine beaches, cultural richness, world-class eateries and boating par excellence, but the latest accolade comes from a cosmopolitan couple from Great Britain. The twosome seeks a beachfront condo on Siesta Key because, they say, "this place is terribly young and obviously full of fun."

Marcia McLaughlin of Re/Max is working with the globe-trotters to find that perfect getaway when they are on holiday. "He actually works with a British real estate firm and owns properties in Italy, France, Germany, all over Europe and the world," says McLaughlin. "Recently engaged, they visited her mother here and fell in love with Sarasota." After the wedding in Italy later this year, the couple wants to relax and spend time here, soaking up the ambience they say rivals that of quaint European villages. And, adds McLaughlin, they just raved over all of the dynamic people they met while having dinner on Siesta Key and downtown.

The Golden Rule

Jim Soda of Prudential Palms Realty may have raised the bar when it comes to establishing strong client relationships. Soda recently listed a gorgeous downtown condo and sold it in mere days for $1.3 million. The happy seller suddenly became Soda's new buyer, so the industrious realtor showed him a bayfront beauty on Lido Key, which he promptly bought for $2.25 million.

The new buyer for the downtown condo and Soda's seller hit it off so well that Soda's client invited the new buyer to watch the Super Bowl in his condo media room. The owners of the Lido Key home generously offered an early move-in date for the same client, actually allowing him to move his furniture into the home before the closing ever took place. All of these transactions were deftly handled during a 10-day whirlwind of 6 a.m. phone calls and late nights; and when all was signed, sealed and delivered, buyers, sellers and realtors all went to dinner together at Café Mediterraneo.

Between celebratory toasts, Soda picked up another listing for a multi-million dollar golf course property. He credits the entire experience to the Golden Rule. "In Ohio I was a businessman with a nationwide trucking company," explains Soda, "and I knew how I liked to be treated during transactions. I just happened into real estate after moving to Sarasota and absolutely love it. But I take care to treat my clients the way I wished people would treat me when I sat on the other side of the table."

Home Again, Home Again

There's a fairy-tale home in Sanderling Club nestled on three waterfront lots and surrounded by lush gardens and emerald lawns rivaling Selby Gardens. Bill and Theresa Saba were the lucky owners, enjoying vast views of Sarasota Bay, a quiet canal and a private estate feel along with all of the amenities of an exclusive club. The Sabas sold their six-bedroom residence, which included fabulous entertaining areas, connected guest quarters and sparkling pool.

But such a special place is hard to forget. So the Sabas bought it back again. Perhaps it was the 1,500-square-foot master suite. Or maybe that perfect teen-ager's wing. Or the wrap-around water and the tranquility of a nature preserve.

Now Realtor Tom Stone of Michael Saunders has listed this uncommon property for $5,750,000, and calls it one of the most naturally beautiful settings he has seen. Does Stone foresee another change of heart for the sellers down the road? "If so," he chuckles, "I hope they come to me."

Really, Really Waterfront

"And if you believe that one, I have a spectacular piece of underwater property in Florida that I would like to sell.." Rick Carlisle of Carlisle & Co. construction did believe, at least in his vision of what could happen to a very unusual lot with a canal slicing right through the center.

Located at 246 Garden Lane, where the former Siesta Fish Market used to stand, was a 100 x100 piece of property on sailboat water and priced quite reasonably. Carlisle went to the city to discuss setbacks and was granted a variance, allowing him to design a home a mere two-and-a-half feet from the water's edge instead of the usual 30 feet. "The idea is to step out of the rear of this house onto a deck/dock with water right under your feet," explains Carlisle. "I just like the idea of doing projects that no one else wants to tackle."

The Carl Abbott-designed contemporary will feature 3,400 square feet of living space, four bedrooms, waterside decks and dock, a triangular-shaped pool and rooftop garden with partial views of Big Pass and the glittering lights of downtown. Pilings are being driven beneath the structure's foundation for support and stability while extensive use of glass, high ceilings and luxurious interior finishes will result in a very original home. Asking price is still being determined, but Carlisle predicts it will be just under $2 million.

A plush turtle nest

A Manasota Key masterpiece known as Turtle Nest is listed with Terri Healey and Tom Wagner of Michael Saunders and attracting interest from around the country. It was built by California architect James Bowen for Don and Rita Gillespie. The design was inspired when Bowen visited the site and discovered marked turtle nests on the beach. His original conceptual designs involved a pool beneath the house, representing a turtle's journey to water, and an exterior deck shaped like a turtle's head crawling amidst sea oats. Most notably, the barrel-vaulted roof is shaped in a segmental arch to resemble a turtle's carapace, traditional symbolism for shelter.

Curving interior walls, strategically placed windows and minimalist interior design create transparency from one end of the house to another, offering no impediments to sweeping Gulf-to-bay views. Steam room, media room, and gourmet state-of-the-art kitchen and the extensive use of granite and travertine result in a stunning island property just 15 minutes away from a small airport catering to private jets. "Prospective buyers love the water-surrounded location and exclusivity behind gates of Manasota Key," says Healey. "They can fly their Lear jets in and out of Venice Airport and be on the key in no time." Priced at $5,900,000.

Hollywood Calling

And just a few doors down is another "For Sale" sign in the front yard of an exquisite Gulf-to-bay estate with a decidedly tropical island feel. Four interconnected living pavilions add up to 9,400 square feet under roof featuring a den, guest quarters, office, library, loft, four bedrooms and six baths. Owned by Hollywood producer Renee Valente, the first woman elected president of the Producers Guild of America, this unusual residence surrounds an outdoor pool and offers 200 feet of private white sand beach along the Gulf of Mexico and another 200 feet of waterfront on Lemon Bay.

Valente built the home with her late husband, writer-producer Burr Smidt. She is best known for the television versions of Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls and the John Dean tell-all Blind Ambition. "The couple used to flit back and forth quite often from Los Angeles," reports listing agent Healey, "but the house is simply too big for just one person." Asking price is $6.5 million. 

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