Downtown on a Budget

By Robert Plunket September 10, 2008

Two affordable places to enjoy the downtown Sarasota lifestyle.


By Robert Plunket


Click here to see our Real Estate Junkie on TV discussing affordable downtown. 


Even though the economic crunch is bringing housing prices down, Sarasota remains an expensive place to live, especially for those on a fixed income. Older people in particular are having trouble making ends meet. So let’s take a look at some subsidized housing alternatives that offer a downtown Sarasota lifestyle for those on a tight budget.


930 N. Tamiami Trail

 The first option is Jefferson Center, that high-rise at the corner of 10th Street and the North Trail. It has a great location right across from the bay and the Van Wezel. Built back in the 1960s, it has been well maintained and is a sort of public housing version of Plymouth Harbor. You have to be 62 to live there and you can’t make more than $33,000 a year. The atmosphere is clean and pleasant, much nicer than you might expect from the rather institutional exterior.


Units here are small, all studios or one-bedroom, ranging from 350 to 550 square feet. But rents are also small, starting at around $400 and going up to $526. There is no dining room or meal plan, but there are social activities and a bus to take you shopping. Keep in mind that this is not a nursing home or assisted living; you must be able to manage your own life. Pets are allowed.


I liked it. The people who run it were very helpful and the location, next door to million-dollar condos, can’t be beat. The grounds are also nice: several landscaped acres for strolling, dog walking, etc.


1300 Sixth Street

A little less polished but still viable is McCown Tower, just a couple of blocks away in the Rosemary District. All ages can live here, but income restrictions also apply. In the past, McCown Tower has had its problems with drugs and such but today it seems well-run, with good security.




My friend Ken lives here and he has one of my favorite apartments in all of Sarasota. It’s on the top floor, with an incredible view of downtown and the bay. It’s a very small one-bedroom, and reminds me of a stateroom on a cruise ship. Ken has it fixed up very nicely with mostly secondhand furniture. He lives a very “active retiree” kind of life, always heading off for the Senior Friendship Center or Friday Fest or a lecture at the library. (He travels by bike.) All this for around $350 a month in rent.

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