Jack Shire had big ideas.
In the late 1960s, he built condominiums with approximately 1,600 square feet of space — despite the fact that many units had less than 1,000 square feet at the time. But Shire’s units felt even bigger. He had a way of maximizing space and could develop a 1,600-square-foot unit with multiple bedrooms and a spacious living room and den. He became a major figure in the development of Longboat and its surrounding keys during the 1960s and 1970s, developing properties such as the Islander Club, Islands West, Seagate and St. Armands Towers North and South, and he also owned and operated Far Horizons and Four Winds Beach Resort.
“He was one of the finest creators of functional, saleable and upper-end buildings, even for Longboat Key,” said Dr. Murray “Murf” Klauber, longtime CEO and chairman of The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort. “He was way ahead of what everyone did.”
Shire, of Sarasota, died Nov. 16. He was 87.
Born Dec. 8, 1922, in New York City, Shire served in the Army in the India-Burma Theater during World War II and became a veterinarian. But he soon got into the business of developing animal hospitals.
Then, in the 1960s, he flew to the area and saw opportunity on the keys. He became a pioneer in transforming hotels and resorts to condominiums.
“It gave people the opportunity to actually own a property that was in a great location,” said Shire’s longtime friend and business associate Phyllis Garfinkel, who began working with Shire in the late 1970s, when Sands Point was condominiumized. “We always say the great locations are the ones to go.”
Klauber said that Shire believed that developers needed to create vacation homes that could match the comfort of the buyers’ primary homes.
“And he was right,” Klauber said.
According to Ralph Hunter’s “From Calusas to Condominiums,” Shire purchased the Far Horizons in 1983 and hoped to build a luxury hotel and restaurant. The Town Commission turned down Shire’s request for a mixed-use plan, and Shire closed the resort in September 1984.
Garfinkel said that Shire opened many doors for her, encouraging her to get her real-estate license.
“The education I received from Jack Shire was just phenomenal,” she said.
Shire is survived by his wife, Helen; daughter, Margaret Shire; stepdaughter, Gail Root; and one stepgranddaughter. At his request, there will be no services. Internment will take place at the Sarasota National Cemetery.
Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected].