Plan to Improve Vamo Drive Park Gets the Green Light

Sarasota County leaders on Tuesday OKed a plan to upgrade the park with proceeds from the sale of one of the homes on the property.

By Kim Doleatto January 26, 2022

Sarasota County-owned Mediterranean revival home on Vamo Drive

This Sarasota County-owned Mediterranean Revival home at 1710 Vamo Drive is for sale. Proceeds will help expand the nearby park.

A county-owned, nearly 100-year-old Mediterranean Revival home on Vamo Drive is fresh on the real estate market, and proceeds from the eventual sale will go toward improving the public park next door. The Sarasota County Commission voted unanimously in favor of the plan yesterday—a final decision that follows multiple public meetings at which area residents expressed what they wanted to happen at the property.

The Vamo Drive Park improvements will be done in two phases. Phase one, slated for completion in 2023, includes improvements to sidewalks; expanded parking; upgrades to the existing small watercraft launch; replacing the existing boat dock with a fishing pier; installation of picnic shelters, tables and benches; construction of stormwater management; and native landscaping.

The director of Sarasota County's Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department, Nicole Rissler, said Tuesday that the launch site will be limited to non-motorized boats due to the water's shallow depth. "We don't want to promote anything larger so we can protect seagrasses," she said. "We're also trying to balance the fact this is in a residential community."

The Mediterranean Revival-style home sits on almost three acres of land that Sarasota County purchased in 2018 for more than $2.7 million as part of its Neighborhood Parkland Acquisition Program, which focuses on acquiring land for parks. The property has a mangrove shoreline, 440 feet of waterfront on Little Sarasota Bay, old oak trees, a lawn area, an old dock, a small craft launch and one other historic, two-story lodge next door that the county will keep. It was built in 1900.

A diagram of Vamo Park plans.

Proposed plans for Vamo Drive Park improvements in south Sarasota.

The second phase of the Vamo Drive Park improvements includes adding more amenities and kicks off the restoration and preservation of the two-story lodge, proposed to be used to house two public restrooms.

Rissler noted the cost to preserve and maintain the more than 100-year old lodge may be high, "but we intend to preserve it," she said. She also said the Neighborhood Parkland Acquisition Program has a current balance of $8 million.

Both the lodge and the Mediterranean Revival home have been designated as "signigicant historical resources," but neither has been recognized as historic by state or national groups. As long as proper permitting processes are followed, being on Sarasota County's list does not preclude a property from being demolished. The buyer of 1710 Vamo Drive could tear down the 1925 home and rebuild on the property, or keep it and designate it as a historic structure.

The sale price of the Mediterranean Revival home has yet to be determined, but based on the current housing market, and the close proximity to the water, the 1,766-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom home could fetch more than $500,000. A comparable 1924 home in the same style across the street sold for $710,000 in December 2020.

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