Neighborhood Watch

By staff October 1, 2008

Its superb location and gorgeous water surround make Bird Key one of the area’s most upscale residential communities. Situated between downtown Sarasota and St. Armands Circle, Bird Key is a boater’s dream, with deep-water canals and a private yacht club that attract professionals, affluent families, retirees and even a few celebrities. Davie Lindsay Worcester of Cincinnati discovered the island, then a pristine bird habitat, in 1911 while boating and picnicking with friends. Her husband, Thomas, purchased Bird Key from the state and spent three years and $100,000 building their mansion there. In the early 1920s, Worcester sold their home to John Ringling, and Ringling’s sister, Ida Ringling North, moved into the mansion. Her rich and famous brother had big plans for homes, shops, hotels and entertainment on Bird Key, and he built the Ringling Causeway to provide easy access to St. Armands Circle, Lido Key and the mainland. When Ringling died in 1936, he bequeathed the island to Ida, who lived there until her death in 1950. Subsequently, Bird Key was developed and the home torn down. Today, Bird Key Yacht Club sits on the site of the original mansion.

Total number of property owners: 510

Total number of sales 7/2007-7/2008: 34

Range of sale prices: $595,000 to $6.9 million

Range of square footage: 1,660 to 6,762

Sample Listing

A 4,155-square-foot home at 445 Meadow Lark Drive

, one of Bird Key’s best streets, is listed for $3,495,000. It has spectacular bayfront views from Sarasota’s skyline to Longboat Key. The custom floor plan offers two master suites: one on the first floor with his-and-her baths and an adjoining morning room with sink, microwave, bar and refrigerator; and another on the second level with a fireplace and open balcony. Two additional guest bedrooms, a spacious living room and separate dining area create a comfortable, open interior filled with natural light. Audrey and Jill Singer of Michael Saunders & Company are the listing agents.

Recent Sale

A three-bedroom, waterfront Bird Key home with a 70-foot great room recently sold for $3.4 million following a list price of $3,975,000. The 5,600-square-foot home at 231 Robin Drive

has an open gourmet kitchen, travertine floors, a glass block wet bar and a second-level billiards and media room with unobstructed bay and downtown views. The open patio and bayside swimming pool and spa overlook a deep-water dock with boat lift. Audrey and Jill Singer of Michael Saunders & Company were the listing agents, and Jackie Kleppinger of Coldwell Banker was the selling agent. Previous sale: $100 in January 2004 (transfer for nominal consideration).

Top of the Market

A grand estate on a full acre of Siesta Key shoreline sold for $8 million after a list price of $9.95 million, capturing top position in residential sales in July, and setting a record for the highest sale to date in Sarasota County in 2008. The 10,000-square-foot home at 4067 Shell Road

is a masterpiece of Mediterranean design and Old World craftsmanship inspired by legendary Palm Beach architect Addison Mizner. Five complete bedroom suites, a 44-by-21-foot bonus room, den, family room and library open onto expansive open loggias and terraces with breathtaking Gulf views. Kim and Michael Ogilvie of Michael Saunders & Company were the listing agents and Jeffrey Lacey of Lacey Realty was the selling agent.

Great Value

A home on the extreme end of Longboat Key’s Jungle Queen Drive, nearly surrounded by water with cruise-ship-worthy views, is being listed about $1 million under what it would have fetched mere months ago. "The residence was part of an estate, and the heirs do not wish to keep the home," explains listing agent Sylvia M. Zimmerman of Prudential Palms Realty. "So they have priced the house to sell at $2,495,000, which is practically land value." The 4,262-square-foot home has five bedrooms, five baths and water views from every window. Walls of windows flood the interior with natural light and give one the sensation of being aboard a yacht with water as far as the eye can see. An expansive lanai and oversized swimming pool make entertaining a breeze, and pilings are already in place for a custom dock. "There is a sheltered bayou preserve to the north for kayaking enthusiasts and the open bay right at your feet," says Zimmerman. "This property is perfect for boaters and wildlife enthusiasts and is a terrific buy. In a different market, this same property would have been listed at $3.5 million and sold in a matter of days."

Guitar Hero

Ever dreamed of living like a rock star? Check out this sweet space, complete with your very own 50-foot, guitar-shaped swimming pool. Built on the banks of the Manatee River with direct access to the Gulf of Mexico, the five-bedroom home at 6176 Ninth Ave.

Circle N.E. is tucked into a gated community and surrounded by an acre of beautifully landscaped grounds. It seems the owner was invited to a party at Eric Clapton’s California mansion back in the 1980s, and was so impressed with Clapton’s guitar-shaped pool that he vowed then and there to someday replicate it at his own home. It’s listed at $1,975,000 by Kelly Zoller of Prudential Palms Realty.

Green on Green

One of Sarasota’s oldest established neighborhoods boasts a beautiful new house that models the future of environmentally sensitive construction. The Bayshore Green House, at 4948 Bay Shore Road, was designed by architect Terry G. Green. Filled with eco-friendly features, from sustainable bamboo cabinetry to an open floor plan designed to maximize cross-ventilation, the 3,600-square-foot home is five minutes from downtown in Sapphire Shores. Green’s inspiration comes from Bali, where living spaces are made up of detached pavilions created for separate uses such as cooking, sleeping, hygiene, religious rituals and guest accommodations. He detached the garage from the house to avoid noxious fumes, separated the guest quarters for privacy and created sleeping rooms on both levels of the home. He connects these spaces with walkways, gardens, patios and pavilions for an integrated architectural form.

“If I had to select a motto for the project,” says Green, “I would go with Spike Lee’s ‘Do the Right Thing.’” He used energy-efficient appliances, solar hot water heating with a recirculating pump, generous overhangs and roof extensions to provide shade, French glass doors that open completely and a reflective white roof. Two splashing waterfalls recirculate pool water, and low-maintenance landscaping requires less irrigation than a traditional lawn. Air-conditioning usage is diminished because the home is naturally shaded beneath a canopy of avocado, mango and almond trees. The residence has received the coveted Energy Star rating, indicating that it is at least 32 percent more efficient than a standard new home. Late last summer, it won three prestigious Aurora Awards from the Southeast Building Conference. The Bayshore Green house is offered for sale at $2.15 million.

One of a Kind 

Also in the museum area, a dramatic and uniquely designed residence enjoying 300 feet of bayfront and a glamorous indoor swimming pool is listed at $4.8 million. The home at 930 Alameda Way in Indian Beach has more than 6,000 square feet of Old World elegance with 23-foot coffered ceilings, expertly crafted stone, marble and wood flooring, gorgeous glass windows and French doors that open to expansive outdoor decks and patios. A navigable bayou and protected boat basin provide access to the bay while a boat garage, private dock with davits and deep sailboat water beckon boating enthusiasts. Sweeping views encompass the John Ringling Causeway across the bay and beyond Longboat Key. The home was designed by Philip Skirball of Skirball Group Architects and is co-listed by Lisa Skirball and Janis Collier of Michael Saunders & Company.

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