Reflecting the general slowdown in real-estate deed recordings for Sarasota County during the second week of April, the largest transaction on Longboat Key occurred on the Manatee County side of the Key at the 56-unit Cedars West condominium.
Richard Kuchenrither and Bradley Lewis, of Overland Park, Kan., bought Unit 103 in Building D at Cedars West from Ann and Robert Crump, of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, for $515,000. The two-bedroom, two-bath apartment at 5655 Gulf of Mexico Drive was built in 1975 and has 1,274 square feet of air-conditioned living space.
Recordings drop 443 in a week
After experiencing a resurgence of 607 real-estate deed recordings in Sarasota County for the six-day recording period of March 27 through April 3, sales recordings for the next week of April 6 through April 10 slipped to 164.
Longboat Key claimed all four sales on the keys.
In an intra-family transaction, Neil Wolfson sold his interest in Unit 1-D at the 59-unit Aquarius Club, 1701 Gulf of Mexico Drive, to Monica Wolfson for $320,000. The Wolfsons reside in Merrick, N.Y. Wolfson acquired the two-bedroom, two-bath condo for $400,000 in December 2008.
The Aquarius Club was constructed in 1975. Unit 1-D has two bedrooms and two baths, with 1,551 square feet of living area.
The second, largest sale of the week was the $447,5000 that Betty Johnson and Gayle Johnson paid to Janet Casey, both individually and as trustee of the Robert Casey estate of Oak Brook, Ill., for Unit G4-309-C at Seaplace III.
The two-bedroom, two-bath condo at 2055 Gulf of Mexico Drive with 1,257 square feet of living area was constructed in 1974 by Arvida Corp. The Caseys acquired the condo for $154,000 in December 1993.
After the late I.Z. Mann successfully completed and sold out his 300-unit Longboat Harbour at 4454 Gulf of Mexico Drive on the Manatee County side of the Key, he built the 80-unit Longboat Harbour South and the 151-unit Longboat Harbour North in 1970.
Both satellite developments have long since sought separate identities by changing their names from Longboat Harbour South to Sutton Place, 4300 Gulf of Mexico Drive, and Longboat Harbour North to Windward Bay, 4888 Gulf of Mexico Drive.
In the week’s final transaction, Mark Dunn, of Auburn, N.Y., sold his Unit 302 in Building D at Windward Passage to Mary Ellen Taggart, from Bridgton, Maine, for $255,000. Dunn bought the condo for $505,000 in October 2005.
Located at 4700 Gulf of Mexico Drive, the two-bedroom, two-bath condo has 1,096 square feet of living area and was constructed in 1975.
Mainlanders looted the Key
When the Florida real-estate boom crashed in 1926, John Ringling stopped construction on his Sarasota Ritz-Carlton Hotel along Longboat Key’s north side of New Pass and blamed “these ruinous city taxes.” He had spent close to $1 million for new ovens, stoves, pipes, toilets and door fixtures for the new hotel, which were left abandoned on the construction site — most still in their shipping crates — according to Trudie Harris, Gen. Joseph Harris’ second wife. Harris was hired, along with her first husband, by Ringling to stand guard over his fortune of equipment and facilities in the 1930s. Ringling bought and shipped all the bath tubs, toilets and sinks from the original Waldorf Astoria when it was razed for the new Waldorf in the 1920s.
‘We just couldn’t stop them’
“They came by boat and car over the New Pass Bridge, sometimes by night and other times boldly during the day,” Harris said. “We just couldn’t stop them all, even though we lived in that little house on the right as you crossed New Pass Bridge onto Longboat Key.”
Old-timers in Bradenton said that half the homes in Bradenton and Manatee were equipped with sinks, toilets, stoves and ovens from the Sarasota Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Longboat Key during the Depression years of the 1920s and 1930s.
Some Longboat residents even participated in the looting. Jim Johnson, who built the Village’s Broadway Stone Apartments, admitted he went down there and even crawled under the building to gather pipe and fixtures.
“You have to remember this was during the Depression and folks had little money, and all this equipment was out in the open rusting and no one was using it, so people came out here and helped themselves,” Johnson explained.
Even Ringling’s nephew took part to keep the circus king from starving after he lost the circus and was virtually penniless, because merchants refused to sell the family groceries on credit. Henry Ringling North wrote in his book, “Circus Kings: Our Ringling Family Story,” about how he went to the hotel site and salvaged large quantities of lead pipe and sold so much he became “the most successful pipe salesman in Sarasota County.”
As far as anyone knows, there were few, if any, arrests made by sheriff’s deputies or the Sarasota city police during this looting.
Original bridge to Snead Island
Following the severe spring storm in March 1932, the first bridge to Longboat Key was literally uprooted from its shallow moorings over Longboat Pass and deposited off Picket’s Key (now near the north western point off Jewfish Key).
Manatee County salvaged that portion of the wooden span over the main channel and barged it over to the Snead Island cutoff, providing Snead Island with its first bridge to the mainland, commonly referred to as the Snead Island “Humpback” Bridge. It served for another 40 years before being replaced by the present concrete span by the Bradenton Yacht Club.
Kent Chetlain is a veteran Florida journalist and historian, a former Manatee County commissioner and a holder of a Florida real-estate license. He has chronicled real-estate activity in this area since 1957.