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Longboat Key Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019 9 months ago

Land sale on Longboat could bring commercial use

The property had been in the Saba family since 1931.
by: Sten Spinella Staff Writer

On Longboat Key, commercially zoned land can be hard to sell, more so if commercial purposes are unclear. Waterfront property at a reasonable price, though, is another story.

Five parties have purchased five lots north of Broadway Street at 7016 Palm Drive, spanning .6 of an acre, for a total of $745,000. Four buyers live on Jewfish Key and a fifth lives nearby. The sellers were Bill and Jennifer Saba.

The buyers are Jewfish Key residents Steve Ellis and Rodney and Cassandra Schansman, as well as three limited liability corporations.

Mike Migone of SVN Commercial Advisory Group represented the Saba siblings and coordinated the sale along with Gerald Cunningham of Keller Williams. Migone's understanding is that the Jewfish Key buyers will likely build docks and clear parking spaces for themselves – there is no designated access point for Jewfish Key residents.

“They may have other plans, I really don’t know,” Migone said. “I just know that they can’t build a house on a commercial lot. One of those owners could have plans to put some type of a structure on there. They could clear it, it could be a parking area, they could park their car there, that kind of stuff is OK, but I don’t know.”

Bill Saba examines part of the land he sold, which had been in his family almost 90 years.

Planning, Zoning & Building Director Allen Parsons said town officials spoke with representatives of Jewfish Key about the potential of building docks before the sale.

“I would anticipate if the property’s been sold that they may be proceeding with some sort of development on there,” Parsons said.

Ellis said each buyer could pursue individual plans for the land that sits between Gulf of Mexico Drive and Palm Avenue. The parcels are .14 acre, .12 acre, .12 acre, .09 acre and .12 acre.

“It became a very inexpensive waterfront land purchase for each one of the buyers.” – Steve Ellis

“So four of us got together and each bought one individual lot, and then a neighbor bought one of the lots,” Ellis said. “We could build in the future, I'm sure people will build up an office building or a storefront or for some purpose commercial. We may or may not put docks in, we're just holding the land right now because we’re able to distribute the property into those five original parcels that are grandfathered in. It became a very inexpensive waterfront land purchase for each one of the buyers.”

Cunningham expressed excitement because the land is zoned to allow for the construction of office buildings. He didn't ascribe intent to the buyers since, he said, no building permits have been filed yet. He originally brought the idea of buying the land to Ellis, who is a well-known builder in the area, he and Ellis said.

Bill Saba walks along Gulf of Mexico Drive adjacent to a section of land purchased from him and his sister by five different parties.

“I’m always looking for good deals, so I keep in touch with a lot of the Realtors up in Longboat and around town,” Ellis said.

Migone also gave Cunningham credit for thinking up the deal and getting it done.

As for the Saba family, “I’m kind of sad to see it go, since it’s been in my family’s name for so long,” Bill Saba said. “It’s always tough to see something like that go when it’s been part of your family since, in this case, 1931.”

The land was passed down in the family for generations, from Saba’s grandparents, Frank and Marjorie Conrad, to his mother, Linda Firkins, to himself and his sister. The Conrads acquired the land on Jan. 1, 1931. Conrad Beach was named after Frank Conrad.

“When you're paying taxes on something, and you just get the feeling, ‘Well, maybe it's time to let something go,’ as difficult as that was,” Saba said.

“It’s always tough to see something like that go when it’s been part of your family since, in this case, 1931.” – Bill Saba

Saba has the same understanding for future uses of the land as Migone and Ellis – likely docks and private parking, perhaps something more in the future.

Bill and Jennifer Saba didn’t sell all the land that belonged to their grandfather: They still have five lots a few hundred yards to the north.

“My grandfather owned that stuff since 1931 too,” Bill said. “So if I own that for the rest of my life, it's not going to break my heart because that's part of my grandfather's presence on Longboat Key.”

Bill Saba said selling the land on Palm Drive was a bittersweet moment.


Sten Spinella is a Town Hall Reporter for the Longboat Observer. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Connecticut and his master's degree from the University of Missouri. 

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