Best Neighborhoods

By Ilene Denton Photography by DK Consulting Group. June 1, 2010


A handsome five-bedroom British West Indies-style home at 625 Norsota Way on Sarasota Bay, designed by architect William Thorning Little, is on the market for $7.75 million. Mike Hays of Michael Saunders & Company and his wife built the home in 2009; he is co-listing the property with MS&C colleague Kim Ogilvie. High-end architectural details abound, from heart-pine herringbone floors to custom-designed windows and French doors, white-on-white kitchen, Stark carpets in the bedrooms and 600-bottle wine cellar. Ogilvie calls it “one of the most beautiful homes I’ve ever listed in Sarasota. The only reason they’re selling is they have their eye on something else they just love.” The Hayses restored the original, 105-year-old home on the property and turned it into a one-bedroom guest cottage; it’s next to the old Hamilton Hotel.


A brand-new Lee Wetherington-built home with granite countertops and custom kitchen cabinetry for under $250,000? We gasped, too. Wetherington, synonymous during the boom-boom years with million-dollar-plus custom residences, is offering just three new models in 2010: the 1,988-square-foot Mira Vista II, starting at $247,300; the 1,989-square-foot Sanibel, starting at $250,200; and the 2,477-square-foot Summerpointe II, starting at $312,300. “That’s just the right size for some of our homebuyers,” Wetherington says. “For those who need more space, we can easily extend the plans without having to go back to the drawing board.” The first model, the Mira Vista II, was scheduled to premiere in May in the Country Club East neighborhood of Valderrama in Lakewood Ranch.

Top of The Market

If you need more evidence that the luxury market is picking up, look no further than 1333 Westway Drive in Lido Shores, where a brand-new, 8,768-square-foot residence sold in one day in March for $8.4 million. The gated, five-bedroom, Mediterranean Revival-style home, built by Todd Johnston Homes, sits on three-quarters of an acre on New Pass and has an infinity pool. Linda Dickinson of Michael Saunders & Company was the selling agent; the listing agent was a non-MLS member.

Sales information provided by Kim Ogilvie of Michael Saunders & Company.

Green Report 

Living Wall

The landscape architecture firm of Gregory Lombardi Design, with offices in Palm Beach, created a living work of art for the American Red Cross Designers Show House in Palm Beach this winter: a hydroponic wall filled with plants that brings a whole new meaning to green design and would work wonderfully for a Sarasota home.

804 N. Manasota Key Road

Neighborhood Watch  

Old Florida lives on Manasota Key.

Placid Manasota Key meanders for more than seven tree-canopied miles between the Gulf of Mexico and Lemon Bay. Thanks to a conservation act passed in the 1970s, high-rises and multifamily developments are prohibited. That leaves rambling, multimillion-dollar homes on oversize lots filled with palms and sea grapes, and one of the prettiest, most unspoiled public beaches in Sarasota County.

“People don’t move to Manasota Key because they’ve seen a picture in a magazine or read an ad in The New York Times,” says Nelda Thompson of Nelda Thompson & Associates, who has lived and sold real estate on the key for 30 years. “People discover Manasota Key. They move here because they’ve

stayed at the Manasota Beach Club, or visited friends or parents. It’s a very hard thing to describe to people who haven’t been here.” The key boasts its share of celebrities, including Bobby Vinton. “They can melt into the environment and become socially involved, and people don’t think anything of it,” she says.

Fifty-one homes and 10 vacant lots were for sale in late March. “In a normal market,” says Thompson, “if we’ve got 30 we feel overwhelmed. Until we absorb this inventory, prices are not going to start rising, but I don’t see them continuing to decline, and actually I see them improving.” A positive sign: In the 15 months from January 2009 through March 2010, 19 properties sold. “That’s three or four times more properties than we’d sold the year before,” she says. 

Manasota Key

Total number of Manasota Key properties: 451

Total number of sales from 3/2009 to 3/2010: 13

Range of sale prices: $455,000 to $2.2 million

Range of square footage: 1,456 to 4,212

SAMPLE LISTING A sunny, two-story Gulf-to-bay home on more than one acre at 777 N. Manasota Key Road is on the market for $5 million, listed by Nelda Thompson of Nelda Thompson & Associates. The 3,143-square-foot, three-bedroom home was built in 1999 with many eco-friendly features and has hurricane windows and turtle-tint windows.

RECENT SALE One of Manasota Key’s oldest and smallest homes, built in 1953, recently sold for $2.2 million after an original list price of $2.75 million. The 1,684-square-foot, single-story residence at 804 N. Manasota Key Road has two bedrooms and one bath and sits on a Gulf-to-bay site. Nelda Thompson was both the listing and selling agent. In 1980, it sold for $133,000.

MLS statistics courtesy of Nelda Thompson of Nelda Thompson & Associates. MLS records transactions and listings by members of the Sarasota Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service.

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