The Scoop on Downtown Living

By Robert Plunket September 30, 2010

I love apartment buildings. I’m from Manhattan, where what building you lived in was an indication of your status—and income. Some were legendary—the Dakota, 820 Fifth, 740 Park—while others were pretty anonymous. But after a while you learned the nuances of just about every building in town


It’s the same with Sarasota. For our November issue, House and Garden editor Carol Tisch is preparing the definitive guide to downtown living, and I’m “borrowing” a lot of her insights to present my own version of The Best Buildings in Town.


Let’s do it by neighborhoods.


1350 Main

First, there is the area around Five Points. This is where the glamorous new high-rises are, and it’s definitely the new hip place to live. Here, the Plaza at Five Points is the one to beat. It’s a little fancier and more expensive than 1350 Main. These buildings are not on the water, but units on the higher floors usually have spectacular views. And everything downtown has to offer is just steps away. Nice apartments in these buildings can be had for half a million, with less desirable units in 1350 starting in the 300s. Penthouses go well over a million.


Let’s move on to Gulfstream and Palm Avenues. These buildings are bayfront and have gorgeous views facing west. Tessera is the newest and most prestigious. It’s home to serious money and some of the most socially prominent people in town. There is nothing here for under a million.


Regency House

But just next door is the Regency House, dating back to the 1970s. The view is the same, but the ceilings are lower and the square footage less. Still, the older buildings are great buys. You can find units in the $200s, but not all have water views. And shops and restaurants are a little farther away. (For premium units plan on spending $600,000.) Avoid Dolphin Towers for the time being. It’s the one that started falling apart and had to be evacuated.


Le Chateau

Over by the Ritz is a cluster of prestigious buildings, with the Residences at the Ritz- Carlton having the best reputation. The older buildings right on the water have great views but tend to be smaller and look a little dated. Still, I love the Old Florida look of Le Chateau—pink, with New Orleans-style balcony railings. You can get a nicely updated unit here for somewhere in the $400s. For the Ritz itself and the Residences, expect to pay a million, although bargains can be found.



Across Ringling Causeway is Golden Gate Point. Here the contrast is the greatest. The Grande Riviera at the tip rivals Tessera for the best building in town—it certainly has the best views, bar none, and the apartments are enormous; many are one to a floor. But right across the street is a small two-story building with a two-bedroom unit currently on the market for $169,000. And you can see the water, if you look between the buildings.


Broadway Promenade

And finally, there’s what is called the Cultural District. This is the area just to the north and west of downtown, near the Van Wezel. The walk is a little farther to the shops and restaurants, but the new Publix is a block away. The main buildings here are the Renaissance, Alinari, and Broadway Promenade. Prices are a little cheaper and the apartments a little less elaborate and the residents a little younger, making them perfect for young professionals.


You’ll be able to read more about the ins and outs of choosing a place to live downtown in the November issue of Sarasota Magazine. Check it out. It will be on the newsstands at the end of the month.





Filed under
Show Comments