Homefront - October 2004

By staff October 1, 2004

High life

The world of glamorous high-rise condominiums is growing by leaps and bounds, as evidenced by three new local projects:

Presales will start this fall for the U.S. Tower Division of Taylor Woodrow's Meridian Towers V and VI at The Oaks Preserve in Osprey. The 17 three- and four-bedroom luxury condominiums will range in size from 2,600 to 3,900 square feet. They're offered from the $500s to $1.8 million. Ten penthouses will be offered from $800,000 to $1.8 million.

The company is seeing great demand for luxury high-rise residences, says Tom Tosi, vice president of the Tower Division's Florida West Coast Operations. Tosi says Taylor Woodrow sold out three luxury beachfront high-rise developments with a total of 158 residences in less than six months at Lido Key and Venice Beach in Sarasota County, and at Madeira Beach in Pinellas County-all before construction began and at an average sale price of more than $1.5 million per residence.

Meridian Tower IV, featuring spectacular Sarasota Bay and preserve views, is also available. Located inside The Oaks, Meridian IV offers floor plans from 2,055 to 3,738 square feet, priced from the high $300s to more than $1 million, including membership privileges in The Oaks Country Club.

Construction is under way on Azure on Lido Key, a new luxury condominium community by Core Development and Property Markets Group, on the site of the old Surfview motel. When completed, it will feature 20 residences with sweeping views over the Gulf of Mexico, Sarasota Bay, South Lido Park and Lido Key. Residents will have easy access to the beach and upscale shopping and dining on St. Armands Circle. A 10,000-square-foot terrace with a pool, spa and outdoor bar, and an indoor lounge with full kitchen, fitness center and treatment rooms will be built. Azure on Lido Key is adjacent to the Ritz-Carlton Beach Club.

And sales are strong at Bel Mare, a 32-acre, three-building condominium complex overlooking the Manatee River at Palmetto's posh Riviera Dunes Resort and Yacht Club. With prices starting in the mid $400,000s and going up to $1.5 million for penthouses, the second floor of each building will feature concierge service, social rooms with wet bars and theater rooms, owners' business office, library and billiards room.

The human touch

Some things we can do just as well as Mother Nature-granite countertops, for example. Michael Beasley of Distinctive Surfaces, Inc. says that over the past two years engineered stone products have steadily increased in popularity with kitchen aficionados. Composed of 93 percent quartz, these man-made stones resemble granite but are non-porous and never have to be sealed, says Beasley. Popular brands include Zodiaq, Cambria and Silestone.

While natural, earthy tones are most popular with home owners, Beasley says home owners with a penchant for the unusual can indulge in bold, novel colors; he's seen bright red and deep purple countertops. As far as cost goes, "everything is based on color," says Beasley. "Engineered stone is more expensive than Corian, about in line with level one granite, sometimes even cheaper."

Ahoy, matey

Just launched: Grand Mariner on Longboat Key, a luxury condominium community with 14 three-bedroom residences and 20 deep-water docks that can accommodate yachts up to 70 feet. The project will replace the Buccaneer Inn Restaurant and Marina, with easy access to St. Armands Circle and beaches. The development is owned by Dream Island, LLC and developed by Chicago-based Terrapin Properties.

The new traditional

Granada Park, a short jaunt from trendy Southside Village and Westfield Shoppingtown Southgate, is Sarasota's newest new-traditional community. The 41-unit project, being developed by The Maddox Group, is located just south of Siesta Drive between Camino Real and Osprey Avenue. Built in neotraditional architectural style, it will feature a mix of two-story condominium homes, flats and townhouses. A village center will include a pool, exercise room, pond and village green; and residents and their pets will be able to stroll on the paths, sidewalks and boardwalks that wind their way around the complex. Units will range from 1,300 to 2,800 square feet with prices ranging from $300,000 to $800,000.

The resort behind the kitchen

"Even though we have nearly the same climate as that of Caribbean resorts, do you ever wonder why they are often so much more alluring than our own homes?" asks Thomas McNeil.

Now, anyone can create the perfect backyard resort in their outdoor areas with a little bit of help from McNeil's talented staff at his new St. Petersburg-based company, Tropical Outdoor Concepts.

"The secrets are design, detailing and a little bit of fun," says McNeil. "Instead of separately hiring a pool builder, landscaper and lighting expert, we've combined all these trades into one company for one coordinated look. The net result? An elegant environment for leisure outdoor living, just outside your door."

Bruce Williams Homes zooms

Bruce Williams Homes has been named one of the fastest-growing businesses in the Tampa Bay region. Peter D. Mason, vice president of sales and marketing, says the company grew from $39 million in sales in 2001 to $73 million in 2003. Bruce Williams Homes is also ranked the 65th largest business in the Tampa Bay region based on 2003 sales, Mason says. From January through June 2004, Bruce Williams Homes surpassed its entire 2003 sales totals.

The company recently started presales of new three and four-bedroom single-family homes priced from the $200s at Northwood

Park, located off Erie Road and 69th Street E. in Manatee County. Model homes will be open by the end of the year, and 110 home sites will be available. And construction will start in early fall on a 5,000-square-foot home design center near the builder's corporate headquarters on Manatee Avenue in Bradenton.

Fidelity marks strong sales

Fidelity Homes also has a lot to celebrate: sales in the second quarter of 2004 that topped more than $5.4 million worth of property in Sarasota County. The North Port-based company closed 17 sales valued at $5,414,726 from April 1 to June 30, says David C. Hunihan, president of Fidelity Homes. This brings the total number of sales for 2004 to more than $9.7 million.

Four estate homes were sold in The Venice Golf and Country Club; 12 were sold in the new Talon Bay community by Peter Shipps in North Port; and the final single-family estate home was sold from Fidelity's Renaissance Collection "West of the Trail," in the historic redevelopment section of Sarasota.


Moving into a new home doesn't mean having to get rid of favorite artwork because it doesn't fit into the new decor. "Sometimes all the art requires is a new treatment," says Marise Art Gallery's Julie London. "Changing a mat or simply going from a metal frame to a wood molding makes all the difference."

London's favorite moldings reflect the authenticity of the times-from art nouveau styles that were created in Prague to frames made from actual molds of the Sistine Chapel. She even has 22K gold and white gold frames for treasured art.

"No matter what we frame, whether it's a mask or musical instrument, a christening gown or a football shirt, the process is always easy and fun," says London.

*Giving it away

Some area builders are never too busy for philanthropy. This summer, David Ivin, president of the Central Florida Division of Taylor Woodrow, presented a $10,000 check on behalf of Taylor Woodrow, Inc. to the Audubon Society of Central Florida. Ivin says the contribution recognizes the critical role the Audubon Society plays in shaping environmental policy in Florida. And Neal Communities gave $1,725 to Kinnan Elementary School in Manatee County to buy textbooks for the school's art department.

*Sound Art

Art doesn't just have to sit behind a glass frame and be stared at; it can have an audio component too. Says Kim Perkins of Elysian Fields: "The sound of a fountain can create a soothing ambience in any environment. With designs that often include natural elements such as slate and copper, a fountain can be a beautiful piece of art as well."

When choosing a fountain for relaxation, Perkins recommends listening for a soft sound that's not overbearing. Look for one with even water flow and an adjustable pump, which will allow you to personalize the flow and sound.

"Fountains can also be used to mask bothersome noises," says Perkins. "The sounds of gently trickling water can block out distracting noises in waiting rooms and offices, as well as create a serene environment for sleeping."

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