Best Neighborhoods

By Ilene Denton April 1, 2010

Luxury Homefront


 If you’ve coveted those grand old Spanish Mediterranean estates that line Bay Shore Road, now’s your chance: The historic Thoms Estate at 5030 Bay Shore Road, built at the height of the last real estate boom in 1926, is on the market for $1,399,000 by its owner, Michael Saunders real estate agent Jeff Weller. At just over 4,300 square feet, the home and its accompanying guest house sit on a beautifully landscaped, oversized property within walking distance of the Ringling Museum. It was featured in March on the Historic Homes Tour presented by the Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation. Weller says he’s had several showings since the home went on the market this winter. “These houses were only built in central California, Texas and here; they weren’t built anywhere else,” he says. “People are kicking the tires.”


A 7,000-square-foot, custom-everything home at 12535 Highfield Circle in the Country Club at Lakewood Ranch, which originally sold brand-new for $3.2 million in 2006, is being offered at the short sale price of $1,875,000. The five-bedroom, five-and-a-half bath Todd Johnston-built Villa Solivita model has a library, theater-media room and bonus room, plus outdoor living room with fireplace and heated pool and spa. Jim Soda of Prudential Palms Realty is the listing agent.

Top of the Market


The last developer-furnished penthouse in the Ritz-Carlton Tower Residences sold for $3.35 million after an original list price of $4.25 million, making it the highest-priced residential sale in January. Four large terraces offer Gulf and bay views, and renowned interior designer Pamela Hughes created the luxe interiors. The new owners can take advantage of 24-hour room service through the adjacent Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota hotel; and a Gold or Platinum membership to The Ritz Members’ Club was included in the sale. Joan Dickinson and Beth Afflebach of Michael Saunders & Company were the listing agents; Afflebach was the selling agent. Sales information provided by Kim Ogilvie of Michael Saunders & Company.

Green Report 

New Direction

These witty “transit tables” made of recycled street signs are real traffic-stoppers. Providence, R.I.-based artist Boris Bally makes these and chairs, tableware, even lightswitch plates out of a whole array of colorful traffic signs.

Neighborhood Watch 

Anna Maria Island heats up.

With recent splashy, full-color spreads in The New York Times and accolades from Web sites like, Anna Maria Island has been garnering the kind of national press lately that turns other resort areas green. Comprised of three little cities packed with personality—Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach and Anna Maria—the island is a 30-minute drive from downtown Sarasota, yet feels far away. Visitors are drawn to its excellent restaurants, the lively Bridge Street pier and shops, and access to boating waters, plus a three-story height restriction that helps retain an Old Florida ambiance. And more visitors mean more rental properties, says Terry Hayes of Signature Sotheby’s International Realty, who has had three generations of family on Anna Maria Island since the 1950s. The average sale price was $500,000 in 2009 (yes, Gulf-front and bayfront properties included). “From an investment standpoint, there are some really good opportunities for positive cash flow,” she says. “People are just gobbling up whatever they can get at this price point.”


A four-bedroom, three-bath bayfront home at 500 Bay Drive S. on Bradenton Beach is listed for $995,000 by Terry Hayes of Signature Sotheby’s International Realty. Built in 1992, the cheerfully appointed, 2,998-square-foot, two-story home has several balconies and terraces from which to enjoy bay and Gulf views, and is within walking distance of shops and restaurants. 


A 1,680-square-foot condominium right on the Gulf of Mexico at 1714 N. Gulf Drive in Bradenton Beach sold in late December for $915,000 after an original list price of $1,299,000. The three-bedroom, two-bath condo is in the Bradenton Beach Club, a Spanish Mediterranean-style complex built in 2003. Terry Hayes of Signature Sotheby’s International Realty was the listing agent; Nola Ronk of Horizon Realty was the selling agent.

MLS statistics courtesy of Terry Hayes of Signature Sotheby’s International Realty. MLS records transactions and listings by members of the Sarasota Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service.

“People are gobbling [properties] up at this price point.”

Anna Maria Island

Total number of Anna Maria properties: 7,317

Total number of sales from 1/2009 to 1/2010: 229

Range of sale prices: $109,900 to $2.25 million

Range of square footage: 600 to 2,300 square feet

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