The North Forty

By Robert Plunket September 30, 2009

Living large in the country.

By Robert Plunket 

Click here to see our Real Estate Junkie discuss these gentleman ranches on ABC7.

Long before Sarasota was even a circus town, it was a cattle town. Out east there were cattle ranches stretching all the way to Arcadia. Today this heritage is maintained by the evocatively named Cattlemen Road, with its feed stores and Western wear, and the real estate east of I-75. Forget the beach and culture (though they’re just minutes away)—this is pure old Florida. And it provides Sarasota with one of its most appealing and unusual lifestyles.


Less than 10 minutes from the Interstate there are a group of communities, mostly gated, that feature what I want to call “gentleman ranches.” They range from the old money look of Gator Creek—with its own golf course—to the rich country boy feeling of Saddle Creek. Here you can keep horses and other animals. The properties typically contain very large new and newish homes, with barns and outbuildings, cross fencing, ponds—all the accouterments of country living.


6501 Saddle Oak Trail

Let’s take a look at 6501 Saddle Oak Trail, in the Saddle Oak community. It’s tucked away, invisible from the road, with a private gate. It’s unusual in that it is a little more highly styled than its neighbors, with a contemporary look and a lavish interior awash in marble, granite, tile and Tuscan-looking faux finishes. It has a rock star attitude, with a private theater, three-story observation tower, big caged pool, a fountain imported from Italy, etc.



At almost 5,000 square feet, it’s a rambling three-bedroom, 4 ½-bath home set on just over five acres. Saddle Oak is a little newer than its neighbors, and the atmosphere is a little less “working ranch” and a little more “upscale development.” It’s priced at $975,000. For more info call Sergei Sokolov at (941) 323-2585.


3100 Lena Lane

Of course, not all the real estate out east is in gated communities. There are plenty of plain old ranches of all sizes. One of the best buys at the moment is 3100 Lena Lane, located in Old Miakka, out at the end of Fruitville Road and about 10 or 15 minutes from the Interstate. This is a big piece of land, 10 acres, and could easily function as a gentleman ranch or a real working mini-ranch for a country-oriented family. The main house has 2,100 square feet (three bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths) and is somewhat Key West in feeling, with big porches, vaulted ceilings, a fireplace, a big kitchen.


There are lots of extra features, most notably a 36by96 orchid house, with climate control, circulating air and a watering system. The entire property is fenced and cross fenced, with a pond and various outbuildings. You can keep any kind of animal the county allows, and there is still a lot of wildlife out there. A wild boar ran in front of my car recently. I think his wife was chasing him.


This ranch is a short sale and very well priced at $480,000. Call Lee Byron at (941) 350-5542.
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