The half-wrecked condominium on Ocean Boulevard and the skeletal remains of its four-story neighbor look eerie under the glow of two streetlights.
But during the day, while men in hard hats lift blocks of concrete and steer hulking backhoes, they’re a bright sight for real-estate recovery.
When the 1.91-acre lot on southeast corner of Ocean Boulevard and Treasure Boat Way sold in March for 80% less than its 2005 price of $3.5 million, it was a sobering example of the real-estate woes that hit Siesta Key following the recession — and an accompanying indication that recovery is imminent.
“It’s my feeling that real estate prices are at or near the bottom,” said Mark Smith, an architect with a Siesta office and member of the Siesta Village Maintenance Corp. “There are a lot of properties changing hands.”
At the front-end of the development process, architects are considered the canaries in the coalmine. His firm, Smith Architects, recently finished a multi-family project on Calle Miramar, and his drafting board is getting action.
“When architects get busy it’s usually a good sign,” Smith said.
Construction may be coming back, but questions about what is being built are tougher to answer.
Laguna Vista LLC purchased the plot of land north of the Old Salty Dog for $3.5 million in 2005, and it is currently zoned for single-family residences under the new landowner, RSL Siesta Key Development LLC, said Sarasota County Zoning Administrator Brad Bailey. For now, this quells some rumors about the site being used as parking for Siesta Key Village merchants.
However, Smith said the chances are slim that the land will be rezoned and sold for parking.
“Land prices are pretty low right now,” he said, “but they’re not that low.”