Homefront - April 2004

By staff April 1, 2004

Bruce Williams Homes showed off one of its newest neighborhoods, The Hammocks at River Wilderness, at a recent grand opening. Interested buyers enjoyed a catered lunch, took tours of the two new models and explored the neighborhood. Located in the gated golf course community of River Wilderness, The Hammocks offers award-winning home designs from the $200s, tile roofs on all homes, low-maintenance living with a neighborhood pool and waterfront access. Visit for more information.

Luxury in the loo

If there's one thing Sarasotans do well, it's pampering. And once we get started on our last bastion of privacy-the bathroom-there's no limit to luxury.

One sexy new trend is the spillover tub that allows you to immerse yourself up to the neck, almost as if you were lying in a warm swimming pool, says John Smithman, president of The Plumbing Place. The water spills over the edge into a channel and recycles into the tub.

Also, says Smithman, "theme-ing" is a hot trend in faucetry. Designers look for pieces such as faucets made to resemble Cape Hatteras lighthouses. Furniture designer Michael Berman and the European bathroom fixture manufacturer Rohl have teamed up to create a series of nostalgic pieces that recall vintage Cadillacs, locomotives and steamships with the curves and seams of their spouts. "People seem to like the idea of a product that tells a story," says Smithman.

And here's the ultimate indulgence: Neorest, an innovative toilet by TOTO. Smithman says it doubles as a commode and bidet, with heated water and adjustable controls. The commode senses motion and automatically raises its lid as users approach. It also can detect solid or liquid waste, and adjusts the amount of water in the flush automatically. Price tag: $5,000.

Beach Residences on the rise

Construction may have just got under way on the Beach Residences on Lido Key, but as of early February, 87 percent of the development was already sold.

"The overwhelming response in pre-sales shows there's a significant demand for this type of luxury product," says project director Tom Tosi.

The Beach Residences, managed by The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, is being developed by the U.S. Tower Division of Taylor Woodrow and is adjacent to the recently completed Ritz-Carlton Members Beach Club. The 12-story project, located at 1300 Ben Franklin Drive, is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2005. Prices range from just under $1 million to $4.5 million for the penthouse, estate and villa residences. Amenities include an outdoor heated pool and spa, spacious deck with pavilion and sitting garden, social room, boardroom, library and professionally equipped fitness center.

The U.S. Tower Division is busy with other area projects as well: At Meridian Towers at the Oaks Preserve in Osprey, construction was expected to be completed by spring on a 1,320-square-foot state-of-the-art health and fitness center. The U.S. Tower Division also began construction of Meridian Towers IV, a 10-story condominium with units priced from the $400s to more than $1.6 million.

Say it with flowers

Sometimes, all the expensive antiques in the world can't replace the elegance of a simple bloom.

Gail Conquest, manager of Mr. Florists Plants 'n Things, says people are enamored with blooming gardens in terra-cotta pots. Mingling pretty flowers like pansies and geraniums is especially lovely, and if you use a large enough pot, says Conquest, you can fill it with mulch and simply set individual pots of different plants inside. These can be changed around for the season and are perfect for patios and front doors. A vine of ivy trailing down the side of the container adds the perfect touch, she says.

"They add a spot of color where you need them," says Conquest.

Container gardens are a wonderful way to bring the outdoors into small condos. Also popular with condo dwellers: orchids and bromeliads to place on the patio or on a coffee table. Says Conquest: "They do so well in Florida, and they're so long lasting."

Going up on Manasota Key

Page Developments, with three successful condominium projects on Manasota Key, is adding a fourth, The Palms. Jeanann Dodson of Page Developments says the initial floorplans are 30 percent larger than the company's other condominium communities. Even before completing a brochure or floor plan, Page Developments already has reservations for five of the 12 units.

As of February, only two units remained for the company's Barefoot Beach, and four out of six units at Gulf Breeze Condominiums had been snapped up. Five units out of 19 remain at Boulder Pointe, and prices are bringing $150,000 more than previous years, says Dodson.

What Lies Beneath

Sarasota is an eclectic town, and that shows in our taste for everything from restaurants to entertainment to d├ęcor. John Murse, owner of Rugs as Art, says when it comes to choosing what lies underneath their feet, Sarasota customers are all over the board.

"We're multi-directional," he says. "In the rug business, you deal with so many decors."

Traditional and contemporary rugs always have a strong following, and a retro look with primary colors and patterns popular from the 1960s is gaining a following. But Murse says he's also seeing a tremendous fascination with the old-world Tuscany look. Colors such as antique greens, deep blues, old golds and rust palettes work well with this scheme, he says.

The Tommy Bahama island look is, of course, a perennial favorite in this part of the world, but Murse says he's starting to see the look shift slightly. Now it's gained Japanese and Chinese influences, and the resulting look, with its casual, simple lines, works well with Florida details like bamboo flooring, says Murse.

Bring Spring In

With the chill of winter far behind us-and here in Florida, the heat of summer looming-what better way to prolong sweet spring than by bringing it indoors?

Reginna Zhidov of Gunnysack and Silk Designs suggests little touches to bring in the bright colors: pile bowls with oranges and apples, fill vases with spring blooms, paint a wall a bright color or change your toss pillows to suit the season.

John Cannon Homes joins The Concession

John Cannon Homes has been selected as one of four luxury home builders for The Concession, a 1,232-acre gated community being planned in east Manatee County. The $600-million project will include 255 single-family homes priced from $1.5 million to $8 million on lots starting at half an acre. Home sites will start in the mid-$300,000s.

Located seven miles east of I-75 near the Sarasota/Manatee county line, The Concession will be built around a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course design, in association with four-time Ryder Cup captain Tony Jacklin. At 520 acres, the course will be three times the size of a typical golf course.

The golf course is expected to be in the same class as Augusta National and Pebble Beach, with the ability to host competitions such as the PGA Tour, Champions Tour and Ryder Cup tournaments.

Positano on the Gulf

Positano on the Gulf, a community of 29 condominium estates by developer Positano LLC, is the newest luxury community going up on Longboat Key, on the site of the old Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites.

Five three-story buildings will comprise the 10-acre beachfront property on the Gulf of Mexico. Residences will have three bedrooms, at least three baths, a two- or three-car garage, beachfront terraces and personal elevators. The two first-level residences within each building will have a private swimming pool and spa. Homes range in size from about 3,200 total square feet to more than 4,300 total square feet.

The community will have 750 feet of beachfront, a beachfront clubhouse with fitness center and social room, a heated swimming pool and spa, personal elevators to private lobbies and a gatehouse staffed 24 hours.

Construction is scheduled to begin by mid to late April, but 12 homes are already under contract. The average price is $3 million.

Rivo pops up downtown

Another condominium waits to raise its head downtown. Piero Rivolta, developer of Rivo at Ringling, has established a sales office across the street from the condominium site on Osprey Avenue between Ringling Boulevard and Main Street.

The mid-rise tower is slated for construction this summer, and will offer 92 two-and three-bedroom units starting at 1,500 square feet, with 14 3,000-square-foot-plus penthouses. Pricing will start in the $300,000s. Residents will have secured garage parking, a fitness center, media room, garden atrium, third-floor pool and sun deck area.

Townhouse frenzy

Gulfside Homes knew they had a great product on their hands, but were still surprised when they found themselves near sell-out months ahead of projections with their townhouse project, The Hammocks at Riviera Dunes, on the Manatee River in Palmetto. As of Feb. 1, only four of the 65 units were still available for sale.

"Some of our customers have purchased their Hammocks townhouse as investment property," says Brian Anderson, Gulfside partner. "But a surprising number of buyers plan to live there for part of the year or as full-time residents because they want to enjoy the scenic location and world-class boating waters for themselves."

Hammocks townhouses have two stories of living space over two-car garages. Floor plans range from 3,500 to 3,700 square feet. The maintenance-free community will have its own pool and cabana.

Passion for Presidio

One little enclave in Lakewood Ranch is filling up fast. The Presidio at the Country Club, exclusively developed by Neal Communities, tallied six new home sales in its first week of sales, says Avril-Lynne Neilon, new home specialist for Neal Communities.

"The homes we offer in Presidio are smaller, attractively priced homes that are just filled to the brim with elegant appointments," says Neilon. "Driving by, you can see the intricate architectural details and charming gated entries, and you know these homes are special."

Presidio, Neal's seventh new neighborhood at Lakewood Ranch, offers 50 homes and four floor plans, each with two elevation options, priced from the $250,000s. Barrel tile roofs, stonework medallions and decorative columns adorn each Presidio home, as well as flowering landscapes and a walkway set behind a gated front entry wall.

Floor plan designs range from 1,558 to 2,160 square feet, with flexible options that allow buyers to convert rooms into whatever space suits their individual lifestyle needs. Residents will also have access to a private gathering area that includes an air-conditioned meeting room, pool and spa, and outdoor social area.

University Park spiffs up golf course

Good news for golfers: University Park Country Club Golf Course has wrapped up the second phase of a project to renourish and upgrade all 27 holes of its championship golf course. University Park has now completed 18 of the 27 holes, just in time for the return of seasonal members and guests.

The revitalization project, which began in early 2003, included laser leveling and enlarging many of the tees, reshaping and contouring the greens, and re-grassing them with premium TifEagle Ultradwarf hybrid grass. The project was segmented into three phases to allow for a full 18 holes of play at all times, with only one nine-hole section closed off in the summer for the work.

"It is a great source of satisfaction to be able to consistently offer homes that capture incredible golf course vistas and the first-class golfing lifestyle that complements them," says Pat Neal, president of Neal Communities and co-developer of University Park.

University Place thrives

Just down the street, University Place, also co-developed by Neal, can boast that in less than three years after opening, all the available land earmarked for residential development has been sold. As of February, the community has had 170 home sales. The key to the community's success, says Neal, is careful planning.

"There are the elements that people see immediately, like beautiful, colorful landscaping and attractive architecture," says Neal. "And then there are the more subtle things that are equally important to making a community worthy of its surrounding landscape: positioning of homes, streetscapes, and common areas. Creating appealing amenities, and enhancing, not destroying, natural sensitive lands are what really make buyers feel good about calling a community home."

In addition to Neal Communities, Bruce Williams Homes, Lee Wetherington Homes, and Inland Homes are building at University Place, which comprises six neighborhoods with more than 400 homes and a host of amenities that include a nature walk, canoe livery and two fully appointed recreation centers.

The master-planned community also includes commercial development that fronts University Parkway. Benderson Development is managing the commercial parcel, which includes Home Depot, Staples, Eckerd Drugs, Wendy's, Carrabbas, Atlanta Bread Company, Stonewood Grill, banks and a hotel.

South County Views

And further south, an invitation-only preview for Beleza on Venice Beach garnered 10 pre-reservations. The eight-story tower boasts Gulf views from all 26 units. There are four penthouses. Prices average more than $1.1 million.

"Beleza on Venice Beach will offer residents the best of both worlds-an exceptional beachfront home in a community that's down to earth and rich in civic pride," says Frank Cirillo, Beleza project manager for Taylor Woodrow.

Residents have a choice of three floorplans ranging from 2,200 square feet to 2,500 square feet, with access-controlled covered ground-level parking, terraces facing sunrise and sunset and private elevator lobbies.

Demolition of the existing Best Western Hotel on the site is scheduled for June and construction could start as early as July.

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