By Robert Plunket February 28, 2007


Looking around in Lakewood Ranch.

By Robert Plunket


Welcome to my new blog. Here’s what I do: Every Sunday afternoon I go to open houses in Sarasota and Manatee and then I write about what I see. I’m looking for the unusual, the charming, the bargain, the special house or condo that’s a cut above the competition.


            It’s all done by serendipity. For instance, this Sunday I set out to look at the Parade of Homes in Lakewood Ranch. I first went into the sales office to get a map, but before they would give me one, I had to fill out a form. For some stupid reason I told the truth. The saleslady took a look at it and somewhat embarrassedly told me I really couldn’t afford to live in Lakewood Ranch and that my only hope was a re-sale in one of the less fashionable areas. Well!


            But I only took this as a challenge. I decided to forget the Parade of Homes and take a look at Watercrest (or as I call it, Watercress) which I have driven by a million times and always thought looked nice. It’s a group of 20 buildings all overlooking the lake, just north of Main Street and the cool shopping center with Morton’s and the movies. I have some friends who live there, a hip young couple, and even though they’ve never invited me over, I trust their taste.


            The first unit I looked at was a revelation. It was No. 302 at 6430 Watercrest Way. The view is incredible – the golf course and a long view of the lake. It was the perfect combination of something urban and something country, a fancy city apartment but in the country. Best of all was the price: $439,000.


            The nice lady who was showing the apartment told me about the builder’s closeout sale they’re having, so I then journeyed down to the last building to check out the models. I was a little skeptical as the last building is the only one not facing the lake and as you probably know, the first rule of real estate is “buy the view.” But I went up to the fourth —or top—floor and walked into the end unit. 


            Wow. The living room was almost 30 feet long, with enormous windows looking out over the treetops of the nature preserve. It almost had a loft kind of feeling. The master bedroom and bath were luxurious and immense and the two guest bedrooms were bright and sunny and didn’t have a corridor in front of their windows, the downfall of so many Florida apartments. It has nine foot ceilings, three bathrooms, a two-car garage, so bright and sunny and so un-hemmed in, and upgraded to the max. Asking price: $560,000.


            Afterward I checked out the competition, other condos and townhouses in Lakewood Ranch, to see if they’re all this nice. They’re not.


            See you next week.
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