House Hunters

By Robert Plunket July 22, 2009







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Lowdown on the House Hunters buildings.

By Robert Plunket

Click here to see our Real Estate Junkie discuss these House Hunters finds on ABC7.

It was great to see Sarasota featured on House Hunters on HGTV last week. I must say it came across great. The focus was on downtown high-rises and the accompanying lifestyle, and I kept thinking, Gee, I want to live there – hey, wait a minute. I do.

Lynn Robbins from Coldwell Banker showed a local doctor three apartments in the $600,000 - $700,000 range. She and the producers did a good job of presenting the pros and cons of each one, but – as usual – I kept wanting to throw my two cents in.



 The first apartment was in 1350 Main. It was a two-bedroom, two-bath unit, and it was brand-new, never lived in. Even though it’s the hippest building downtown (one of the producers of Vinyl Fest has a place there), the doctor seemed a little skeptical. He thought the guest bedroom too small (“Is this the guest closet?”) and he didn’t like the views. 1350 is set amongst other buildings, and while some apartments have fabulous water views, others do not. What he did like was the amenity floor – the pool, clubroom, etc. – and with good reason, as 1350 has the best amenities of any building downtown.



He also took a look at a unit in Regency House, one of the older buildings (circa 1973) on Gulfstream. It’s that strange-looking eight-sided building. I have long loved this place. Some of the apartments have enormous living/dining rooms 35 feet long, and the layouts of all of them are spacious, with extraordinary closet space.

The doctor loved the unit Lynn showed him. It was completely updated, and had three bedrooms (hard to find in this price range) and a sprawling feeling. He was particularly enamored of the kitchen, so much so that I thought he would choose it for that reason alone. But he wanted a balcony and there wasn’t one. (Actually, there was, but it had been enclosed and made part of the living room.) So it was on to Bay Plaza.

By the way, the unit he looked at is still on the market. And it’s down to $660,000 from $750,000. There is also a remodeled 2/2 for $544,000 and a 2/2 at the back of the building with a city – not water – view for $350,000.



It was the Bay Plaza apartment he finally decided on. It was a two-bedroom, two-bath unit on a high floor, and it needed a lot of updating, having been lived in by a little old lady with a taste for floral wallpaper. But it did have the best view, plus two balconies, and clever Lynn was able to get the owner to come down $70,000 to $619,000.

Bay Plaza was built in the early '80s, and while it’s always been one of the premium downtown buildings, it has a peculiarity I’m not crazy about. The hallways are “motel” hallways – on the exterior, so that people walking to other apartments pass your kitchen and guestroom windows. This just doesn’t seem very luxurious. But still, it’s a very popular building, famous for its great service, and there isn’t much available there at the moment. (I did come across a 2/2 short sale with 1,629 square feet listed at $449,000.)

So in the end the doctor did what he said he didn’t want to do. He bought the unit that needed a major rehab. And why? The view. Once again the view becomes the deciding factor in Sarasota real estate.

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