While there's not much space for new construction on Longboat Key, developers have been constructing homes to meet a new demand of buyers.
Longboat Key’s real estate market exploded in the 1970s and 1980s when the Arvida Corp. built many of the island’s largest structures and neighborhoods, including Seaplace, Bay Isles Harbour, Beachplace, Inn on the Beach, Fairway Bay and Sunset Beach.
And while an uptick in activity in the first half of 2018 might not rise to that level, a ride around Longboat Key will showcase myriad projects that have all seemed to begin at once:
- The redevelopment of Colony Beach & Tennis Resort, which is scheduled for completion in 2021. Though in the works for years, and still not entirely settled, demolition of the existing buildings could begin next week. Ground could be broken on the St. Regis in 2019;
- Development of a 300-unit hotel at the Resort at Longboat Key Club, which has begun with the realignment of Longboat Club Road. A traffic circle may someday form the intersection of the street and Gulf of Mexico Drive.
- A new gas station on the north end, which is planned to open by the end of this year;
- The Arts, Cultural and Education Center at the site of former Amore Restaurant, which could see demolition by the end of this year. Town officials hope to create a central gathering space on the property between the time the building is cleared and the arts center construction begins;
- The Shore restaurant in the historic Longboat Key village, which is slated to open by October;
- Demolition of Pattigeorge’s restaurant in preparation for an homage to The Buccaneer at the site, which could be completed by 2020.
“In a high-end real estate market, which Longboat is in, properties are not going to stay as they are. They’re going to continue to evolve,” said Commissioner Jim Brown. “I think that’s really what’s happening.”
Property values have risen on Longboat Key for the past five years, showing an increase of more than 3% each year, according to town documents.
Michael Saunders, who owns Michael Saunders & Co. and has spent 70 years on the island, said new amenities, such as the Arts, Cultural and Education Center, will work to attract more potential homebuyers, Saunders said.
“The Key has evolved over the years, and people have fallen in love with the magic of Longboat. And each generation has wanted something different,” Saunders said. “People want new. They want high ceilings, they want light, they want access and to be part of nature.”
And Longboat is just an attractive place.
That’s why Richard Gonzmart of the Columbia Restaurant Group said he decided to purchase the former Pattigeorge’s restaurant.
“We weren’t looking for another project, but we just couldn’t turn down this opportunity to be on Longboat Key,” Gonzmart said.