Who Says There's No Affordable Housing?

By Robert Plunket March 20, 2007


Take it from me—it’s here, if you just get out and look.


By Robert Plunket


I’m sick and tired of all these whiners complaining about how Sarasota has no affordable housing. Who wants to live in a town that has affordable housing? That’s for places like Minsk. Sarasota’s greatest virtue, its mystique, is that it’s so wonderful that virtually no one can afford to live here.


Besides, all the whiners are just showing their ignorance. There’s plenty of affordable housing. True, you need a modicum of guts and imagination to see it, but it is there.


Take Sunday afternoon. I came across a bunch of places hovering around the $200,000 level and they were all fine. My favorite was 1175 41st St, just north of Myrtle, off Old Bradenton Road. It’s not the fanciest neighborhood in town but it’s perfectly respectable, particularly if you’re a little “arty,” which is, of course, the best excuse for being poor.

1175 41st St


It’s a 1925 bungalow, cute as a button, and nicely—though not expensively—renovated. (It was owned by a Ringling professor.) It’s got two bedrooms, one bath, a terrific living room that’s all windows, and a big lot with nice trees. It also has “potential” in the form of a large (20x16) attached garage. I’m not a big one for garage conversions but this one is concrete with windows all around. It would make a terrific master suite, or leave as is and use as an art studio. They’re asking $229,900. Get them to come down 10 percent—or even 5 percent—and you’ve really got a deal. Cynthia Biggar is the agent; call 308-3974.


Let’s move right along to 845 Highland Street. This is west of the Trail, a couple of houses from the bay, and you couldn’t ask for a more prestigious neighborhood. I was in this house the last time it was for sale, 14 years ago, and remember it surprisingly well. It looks like nothing from the outside, a tiny 60s ranch set longways of the narrow lot, but inside it’s cute and bright and sunny. Terrazzo floors, two bedrooms, two baths, a beautiful sun room. This is the perfect house for a gay couple; they could gussy it up and turn it into the Sarasota equivalent of one of those chic bungalows you see tucked away in the side streets of West Hollywood. Jo Rita Stevens, the realtor/owner, (351-4444) is asking $289,000, a little pricey for affordable housing, but then, as you well know, nobody is paying the asking price these days.


And finally, right up the block are The Terraces of Sarasota, a condo conversion that used to be that rather disreputable building that looked like the projects. Now it’s townhouse condos, 16 of them. They’ve been very well renovated, with two bedrooms, one and a half baths, granite, stainless steel. A two-bedroom condo, west of the trail, just five minutes from downtown, for $199,900. Who says there’s no affordable housing??? Mary Rinaldi, 744-7426.
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