Homefront - May 2005

By staff May 1, 2005

Click and Chat

Have pertinent questions about real estate, and need them attended to now? Abode Real Estate Company has the answer: a real-time online customer chat service on its Web site, "The live chat technology is a first for Sarasota real estate companies," says David Barr, president of the company he founded in 2004. "With this service we can be in constant contact with clients to provide the answers to their questions quickly-and easily." The chat function is PC-compatible only.

Affordable Art for Your Floors

Check out Rugs as Art's brand-new look in traditional rug designs. Owner John Murse explains that a new dying and weave style called the "Peshawar" style is being used to suggest a palette of distinct, rich colors that have been muted and mellowed to create an aura of antiquity, while maintaining a durable pile that will last for generations to come. Murse is also excited about new additions to his contemporary collection, including a concentration on jewel tones, angular design patterns and a creative splash of "primary pastel" colors. He says he sees a surge of interest in '60s and '70s colors, especially greens and blues. Rugs as Art offers products from more than 90 vendors from 40 rug-producing countries at affordable prices.

Building Green in Boca Royale

Think Englewood, think "green," and think elegance. Why? Lee Wetherington Companies is building an exclusive collection of luxury homes in the Boca Royale Golf & Country Club, a gated community in Englewood. Each home will offer eco-friendly features, rich architectural details and an elegant ambience that seamlessly integrates the outdoors with the indoors. Two award-winning models, the Harvard and Marbella, are currently under construction and scheduled for a grand opening this summer. Take a virtual tour at

Steel Story on Bird Key

Cold formed light-gauge steel is quickly becoming one of the hottest trends in home construction, and PanaSteel has teamed with Sarasota's Murray Homes to introduce this environmentally friendly building material to Bird Key. "We're a progressive company," says Steve Murray, vice president of Murray Homes, who's building the Bird Key estate, "and we're not caught up in the quagmire of doing things the traditional way."

Murray explains that steel is resistant against termites, mold and a host of other problems associated with wood. In addition to enabling a house to be constructed in days rather than weeks, he says, "steel is eco-friendly. A typical 2,000-square-foot house requires about 50 trees, but the same home can be built from steel recycled from five or six junked cars." Want to learn more about this remarkable building product? Check out

One Penthouse, One Yacht and One Electric Bicycle, Please

What do you need for the perfect downtown life? Here's what the folks at the Rivolta Group think: One penthouse at Rivo at Ringling (better hurry, there are only a few left), one custom-made luxury yacht, and one electric bicycle. The common denominator is Piero Rivolta of the Rivolta Group and Rivolta Marine. Aside from building luxury condos and yachts, he's also the distributor for these nifty bicycles, which are sold at University Bikes. Rivo at Ringling, by the way, is slated to be completed in the summer of 2006. Spacious penthouses take over the top three floors of this 15-story building and offer panoramic views of Sarasota. For more information, call the Rivolta Group at (941) 954-0355.

No Weather Worries with These Windows

It's May in Florida and that means beautiful weather, flowering bougainvillea and the advent of hurricane season. Although we don't want to think about that too much, it's hard to ignore after last year's messy bout with nature. Here's one way to ease your worry: Protective hurricane shutters. The experts at Hurricane Glass Shield, Inc., have a hundred different ways to protect your house during windstorms, even the big ones.

One of this season's most popular wind protection products is LOOKOUT clear storm panels, made of a lightweight polycarbonate material that lets light shine in while providing stronger protection than steel or aluminum products. "These are easy to put up and to store," says Rob Martin, general manager. "In fact, many homeowners leave them up throughout the storm season." Another in-demand product: Force 12 windscreens, custom-manufactured to protect open areas such as lanais and entranceways. Force 12 screens effectively transform 100-mph wind to 3-mph wind, thus creating a "safe room" environment behind the screens.

Real Estate and the City

Realtors Cheryl Timmons, Jim Soda and Janet Trefry recently celebrated the launch of City3, a corporation specializing in downtown Sarasota real estate. The three partners, associates in the downtown Prudential Palms Realty office, say they're thrilled to be part of downtown Sarasota's renaissance. Got questions about downtown living? They'll have the answers.

Neal Communities and New Neighborhoods

Pat Neal, president of Neal Communities, has once again teamed up with LWR Communities, LLC. Five neighborhoods are featured in a new section of The Country Club at Lakewood Ranch-the Greystone, Silverwood, Edenmore, Wexford, and Highfield-and Neal Communities is the sole builder in four of the five. Nestled in oak hammocks and amidst lush landscaping, these neighborhoods offer fabulous preserve and golf course views with homes ranging from 1,558 to 4,050 square feet. Prices will range from $500,000 to $800,000. For more information about these new neighborhoods, visit

Doing Their Best for Daycare

The youngest victims of Hurricane Charley will be able to attend three Charlotte County daycare facilities, thanks to the efforts of associates and employees of Michael Saunders & Company who raised more than $26,000 for a special hurricane relief fund. Company president Michael Saunders then matched the donations, bringing the grand total to $52,300. The funds were donated to Story Book Academy, the YMCA Edgewater Facility, and Charlotte County Head Start.

"The recipients will be able to use these funds to rebuild their facilities and programs, which are the lifeline for so many children," says Saunders.

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