This Bayshore Gardens Rehab Shows the Neighborhood in Bloom
Back in 2021, we published an article called "Six Sarasota Tourist Attractions From the Past." In it, writer Robert Plunket included Bradenton's Bayshore Gardens neighborhood, which opened in 1956, for its come-hither call to those fwho wanted to live in a midcentury modern, master-planned paradise. But the article also highlighted Bayshore Gardens' more recent fall from grace and concluded with a challenge from Plunket: “I’ve found it odd that it has never really caught on as a place for hip people who want a nice little midcentury house to restore. But it still could.”
He was right. It could. Realtor Stacy Brown, for example, bought a nice little midcentury house on Florida Avenue and restored it, and now it’s so cute, even her neighbors across the street say they found their house a more attractive buy since it faced hers.
Brown also added a small office building on her property. She owns a boutique brokerage called Florida Life and specializes in manufactured housing.
Bayshore Gardens is located on Sarasota Bay in Manatee County between Bradenton and Sarasota, roughly two miles north of the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport. The 3,200-acre neighborhood has its own taxing district, Brown explains. "It's like Disney that way. We pay in roughly $400 a year, which goes directly to Bayshore Gardens Park and Recreation District. That gives us exclusive access to a Junior Olympic-size pool and clubhouse, with a marina and a boat ramp."
When Bayshore Gardens was first built, the amenity-rich living was a huge selling point. The area continues to include all its original perks—like a playground, picnic pavilions with barbecue grills, a ball field and a fishing pier with a cleaning station. A marina with a private boat ramp along with a recreation hall is available to residents at reduced rates, and there are clubs like the Yacht Club, Garden Club and Woodchoppers Club, among others.
Brown's home is a Queen Palm model, one of seven model homes built in the master-planned community in the late '50s. When Brown purchased it for $165,000 in 2018, the home was in need of repair and care. "It was cheap, but scary looking,” she says.
“I needed to find a place I could afford. I always like driving through Bayshore Gardens and I love midcentury modern style," she says. "The house was a rental and they just didn't maintain it. I could see the whole vision as soon as I saw it. That's the artist in me." With roughly $60,000, she set about putting it right, with a new roof and air conditioning and an extensive terrazzo floor rehab after she found an inch of the precious stuff behind the stove, peeking out from beneath a sad white tile job. It took a year or so but felt longer. "It was the worst, but it was the best," she says. "I delved into creativity." Brown is originally from St. Louis; this is her first Bradenton home.
The fact it came with a water well cinched the deal for her. An avid gardener (she used to be a florist at The Colony Beach and Tennis Resort in the '80s), she knew lots of water would be needed to grow her tomatoes, green beans, sugar snap peas, kale, beets, broccoli, parsley, leeks, lettuces, radishes and herbs. “It's very 'florific' back here,” she says. Her lucky neighbors, who all know her, are regular recipients of her bounty. She’s also a notary, serving much of the neighborhood.
Other than the little slice of Eden that sweetens the streetscape, she added a bench on the front side of the home for passersby.
Some residents were angry about what Plunket wrote about their neighborhood being a bit shabby, but not Brown.
“I think what he wrote was true,” she says. "Maybe it'll be a slow transition, but I'm here to be an inspiration and hope that others will start to see the value in the neighborhood. It's a working-class neighborhood and the kids actually still play outside and ride their bikes. They're good kids. I've washed off a couple of skinned knees in my day. It's my own little corner of paradise."