Great Sarasota Neighborhoods

Neighborhood Watch: Historic Sapphire Shores

New vitality for the grand old museum-area neighborhood.

By Ilene Denton February 17, 2016

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Bordered by Sarasota Bay and some of Sarasota’s most important educational and cultural institutions, Sapphire Shores attracts artists and arts administrators, a smattering of New College and Ringling College faculty, and empty nesters who are injecting new vitality into the grand old neighborhood.

            “There’s a level of activity I haven’t seen in years,” says David Jennings of Coldwell Banker Real Estate, who has lived in Sapphire Shores for 24 years in a 1950-era home once owned by Russian Prince Michael Cantacuzene. “An art festival fills Sun Circle Park in March, there’s an active beautification committee and an annual picnic bigger and more vibrant than ever before. And the growth continues; four houses were built in 2015, more than we saw built in the last boom of 2004-2005.”

The horseshoe-shaped neighborhood encompasses these streets: Woodland, Acacia, Sapphire, North Shore Drive, South Shore Drive and Brywill Circle, bisected by an especially wide, palm-lined stretch of Bay Shore Road.

The original 1924-1925 deed restrictions mandated Mediterranean, Moroccan or Italianate architectural styles, and all 13 of those original homes built before the real estate crash of 1926 are still standing. Just four homes were built between the crash and the end of World War II; development didn’t begin in earnest until 1949-1950 when today’s ranch-style homes began to be built, says Jennings. None of the post-crash homes were controlled by deed restrictions, making the housing stock highly eclectic.

A lot of renovation is taking place, he says, “but unlike West of Trail, over half of Sapphire Shores is in the A flood zone. How much you can spend on renovation is controlled by FEMA regulation.” Sarasota County’s biggest residential sale of the year was here, the $9 million purchase of Villa Solstice at 374 S. Shore Drive.

Number of Sapphire Shores homes: 184

Number of sales 2015: 17

Range of sale prices: $355,000-$9 million

Range of square footage: 1,680-10,883

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