Real-estate sales recordings since the first of the year have been subdued, just as numb as this year’s cool weather. The final week of December 2009, there were 11 sales — three topping $1 million. The first three weeks of January averaged fewer than six sales a week and one $1 million transaction.
Leading the five sales for this four-day reporting week of Jan. 19 through Jan. 22 was the $1.5 million sale of a 54-year-old Lido Beach home at 224 N. Polk Drive to Craig Wedge and Linda Jellison, of Bradenton.
Situated on a double lot with 200 feet of seawalled frontage along the canal separating St. Armands Key and Lido Beach, the three-bedroom, three-bath home has 2,614 square feet of living area and includes a swimming pool that was added in 1987.
The sellers, Christine and Christopher Patrick, of Sarasota, bought the home for $565,000 in January 1997.
Colleen McCourtney, of Stamford, Conn., sold her condominium Unit 72-N in the 12-story, 140-unit Islander Club of Longboat Key at 2295 Gulf of Mexico Drive to Barbara and Jay Moskow, from East Falmouth, Mass., for $660,000.
Erected in 1970, the two-bedroom, two-bath apartment has 1,235 square feet of living area. The unit last sold for $195,000 in March 1993.
Casa del Mar
Janice and Roger Brown bought Unit 2-B in Tract C at the 106-unit Longboat Key Casa del Mar, 4621 Gulf of Mexico Drive, from T.V. Ltd. for $512,500.
The two-bedroom, two-bath condo was constructed in 1972 with 828 square feet of living area.
St. Armands Key
Joan Hurley and Christopher Likens, as successor co-trustees of the John Randolph Calhoun Trust, sold the St. Armands home at 89 N. Washington Drive to Leslie and Ashwini Bahl, of Plant City, for $650,000.
The property occupies Lots 15 and 16 of Block 2 in the St. Armands Division A of John Ringling Estates.
The house was constructed in 1957, three years after the completion of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge that triggered the lower West Coast’s 50-year growth cycle. The home, occupying a double lot, has four bedrooms, four baths and 3,759 square feet of living area.
Shireen Schlagel, of Sarasota, sold her home at 316 Bird Key Drive to Rita Fabian (50%) and Frank Fabian (50%), of Toronto, for $495,000. The three-bedroom, three-bath home was constructed in 1969 with 2,216 square feet of living space. The home last sold for $160,000 in May 1981.
There was a silver lining
The year 1926 marked the end of Florida’s first fabulous real-estate boom, and as David Weeks observed in his 1993 book, “Ringling: The Florida Years, 1911-1930”:
“Sarasota found that municipal growth slowed, then halted with astonishing finality in 1926.
“Yet, as Miami Beach discovered in the mid-1930s, those cold, northern winters drove tourists down to escape the harsh weather.
“The established corps of winter residents were not a part of the economic problem of the collapsing boom. The winter tourists saw no reason to abandon their usual practice of passing the winter months in Florida.”
The loss of the transient tourist business did not materialize.
Ah, thus a silver lining in an otherwise dark, gloomy economic cloud.
Bust didn’t stop winter tourists
In fact, “the winter seasons of 1926-27 and 1927-28 were among the best ever, providing some lasting gains that offset some of the frenzied aspects of the boom. Sarasota now offered tourists new, attractive resort hotels — the Mira Mar, Owen Burns’s El Vernona (later the Ringling Towers), as well as Ringling’s Lido Beach Hotel that gave pleasure to the beach-goers.”
As Yogi Berra might put it comparing today’s post-boom with that of the 1920s bust, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”
From my own personal observations over the years, we are in the throes of one of the best winter tourist seasons ever. I have never seen so many cars and vehicles during the winter season since moving here 53 years ago. We won’t know completely until they add up all the sales and gasoline taxes collected by the end of April. But, if past gains during the Florida winter season are any indication, our economic logjam may be starting to break up. One has to wonder why we aren’t touting: “Buy American!”
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.
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