Luxury Homefront

By Ilene Denton April 1, 2009

Top of the Market

An 11th-floor apartment in the posh Ritz Beach Residences on Lido Beach sold for $3.05 million after an original list price of $3,495,000, making it the highest residential sale for January. With almost 4,000 square feet of living space, the elegantly appointed apartment has two master suites and a third guest bedroom and study. All the amenities of the Ritz-Carlton are included: concierge, room service and maid service, a theater, pool and spa, and wide, white-sand beach. Jackie Kleppinger was the selling agent; Roger Pettingell was the listing agent. Both are with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate. Sales information provided by Kim Ogilvie of Michael Saunders & Company.


Great Value

A 4,704-square-foot, furnished, 18th-floor penthouse at the Ritz Tower Residences is listed at $3.45 million by Candy Swick of Candy Swick & Company. That’s 35 percent lower than the original list price of $5,295,000, and $800,000 less than the developer-owned apartment on the 17th floor.

"There are fabulous values to be had" in downtown properties, says Swick, and buyers are taking notice. "The marketplace looks to have an inventory of two to three years. and we’re selling one-third to 50 percent per year—that’s a lot better than the gloom and doom we hear," she says. Swick’s Web site,, has a nifty panoramic photograph of every downtown condominium community, along with current information about amenities and details like leasing restrictions and pet policies.


Market Watch

A slice of Sarasota history—the original Thomas Reed Martin residence at 1855 Oak St. in Laurel Park—is newly on the market, listed for $899,000 by Lisa Skirball of Michael Saunders & Company. Martin, the architect responsible for designing many of the city’s most elegant structures during the booming 1920s, built the three-bedroom Mediterranean home in 1926. A reporter for what was then the Sarasota Herald wrote on Dec. 15, 1926, "Built at a cost of $30,000, this home’s every line speaks of the creative genius of its designer." Set behind low walls and masses of bougainvillea, it has been restored on the exterior and updated on the interior, with new windows and doors, restored wood floors and a stainless-steel-and-granite-filled kitchen. Skirball believes the buyer may be a professional couple who wants to be downtown. "It’s going to be an emotional buy," she says. "It’s so unique; it’s got the character."


Green report

Pure harmony.

Organic fabrics don’t have to look like oatmeal.

Take a look at the happy floral prints produced by Harmony Art. The California-based wholesaler uses cotton that’s been grown without any fungicides or insecticides to pollute the soil and water-based, synthetic inks and dyes that have been screened to prevent hazardous inputs from being used. And, yes, Harmony is the designer’s real name. Ask your designer to check it out at

Neighborhood watch

Clubby Country Club of Lakewood Ranch.

Lakewood Ranch’s original gated golf community, the Country Club, is an award-winning, master-planned enclave. The very grand Med Rev clubhouse, set on what is for Florida an impressive hill, is the center of life here, with athletic facilities, formal and informal dining and lots of special-interest programs. "It’s a lifestyle," says Mary Hellhake of Michael Saunders & Company. "It’s the ultimate." The mix of golf-front executive homes and smaller villas offers a wide range of prices, Hellhake says, right now anywhere from the low $200,000s for a villa to $3 million for a single-family estate. "It’s affordable now; that’s the beauty of it," she says. "Whoever thought you could afford to live in the Country Club for the low $200,000s?" Residents range from young families to retirees (including one certain nationally renowned college basketball announcer we won’t name). Best of all for potential buyers, says Hellhake, "It’s established. In many other places, there’s so much uncertainty about completion of building, but not here."


Total number of property owners: 1,803 Total number of sales from 1/ 2008 to 1/ 2009: 116 Range of sale prices: $237,500 to $3,000,000 Range of square footage: 1,500 to 7,300

SAMPLE LISTING A dramatic, 7,000-square-foot, two-story estate home at 12535 Highfield Circle is listed for $2,195,000. Built in 2007, it boasts luxurious finishes. The outdoor living area has a pool and full summer kitchen. Mary Hellhake and Stacy Haas of Michael Saunders & Company are the listing agents.

RECENT SALE A four-bedroom home at 13510 Montclair Place on the members-only golf course recently sold for $550,000 after an original list price of $699,000. The 3,196-square-foot, two-story residence was custom built in 2004 by Lee Wetherington Homes. Christine Mazur was the selling agent; Mary Hellhake was the listing agent. Both are with Michael Saunders & Company. Previous sale: The vacant lot sold for $163,800 in March 2004.

MLS statistics courtesy of Mary Hellhake of Michael Saunders & Company. MLS records transactions and listings by members of the Sarasota Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service

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