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Real Estate
Longboat Key Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010 7 years ago

The Observer's real-estate writer bids au revoir

by: Kent Chetlain


This is my last real-estate column for The Longboat Observer. I am voluntarily surrendering to Father Time and its associated debilities. That is not to say I am in any way crippled. In fact, most mornings I am able to get up and do my 10 push-ups, a legacy from my days of attending New Trier Township High School, in Winnetka, Ill.

As near as I can remember, it was The Longboat Observer’s founder, Ralph Hunter, who hired me approximately 28 years ago in 1982 to chronicle real-estate sales on Longboat Key. Gradually, we expanded our coverage area to include all of Sarasota’s keys north of Siesta, including St. Armands, Lido Beach, Lido Shores, Sarasota Harbour Apartments (Coon Key) and Bird Key, all within the Sarasota city limits.

During this period, the advent of the computer transformed reporting real-estate sales by making available the records of both the county clerks and the county property appraisers to the public over the Internet. Because Longboat Key is only one of two municipalities in Florida lying in two counties (Manatee and Sarasota), this made the compilation of the sales a prolonged effort, requiring (at least for me) the scanning of all deeds and warranty deeds in both counties each week.

During the height of the recent realty boom, or “bubble,” this often required browsing through 3,000 to 3,500 recorded deeds each week in both Manatee and Sarasota counties to ascertain from where these buyers and sellers came.

This was a time-consuming effort, which I was able to accomplish because I memorized all names of the condominiums and subdivisions on the keys over the years.

By 1995, I also had the time because I was retired from politics and my journalistic career. That I persisted and lasted as long as I did I can attribute to my heredity. Dad practiced law in Chicago’s Loop for 59 years, closing his office at the age I am today — 82. Additionally, I was always interested in real-estate and community affairs after my career as a newspaper reporter, copy editor, sports editor with stints at newspapers in Sanford and Orlando, along with The Bradenton Herald, The Tampa Tribune and Florida Trend magazine, and a brief fling as a real-estate salesman in Clearwater.

One of my first duties when I first joined the staff of The Bradenton Herald in the summer of 1957 was to write a real-estate column compiling the week’s sales gathered at the Manatee County Clerk of Circuit Court’s office, in Bradenton. It was doing this that I began building my knowledge of the names of local subdivisions while chronicling the activities of and becoming acquainted with leaders and local officials.

On Longboat Key, I wrote about and became acquainted with people such as Herb Field, Gordon and Lora Whitney, Jim Johnston, Fran Mayers (Michael Saunders’ mother), Kit and Russell Fernald and former Mayors Gen. Jim Edmundson, Joe Zwick, Ken McCall, Howard Ridyard, Sid Ochs, Lew Pollock, Ray Metz, Jim Brown, Hart Wurzburg and honorary Mayor Guy Paschal and his wife, Melanie, who, incidentally, I believe is still alive at a Sarasota retirement facility.

Years later, I would become more involved with Longboat Key after joining Don Moore and his up-and-coming Anna Maria Island Islander, which, at the time, covered Longboat Key. This was before Ralph and Claire Hunter founded The Longboat Observer in 1978.

I covered Longboat Key

Town Commission

meetings from 1975 to 1977, during that crucial juncture in the town’s history when the commission and John Siegel-led representatives of Arvida Corp., owners of almost half the town of Longboat Key, sat down and worked out an amicable accord for planning the future growth of the Key. They avoided an ugly, expensive lawsuit over development in the jurisdictional, mangrove-covered mudflats and wetlands where Bay Isles peninsula is today.

It was in the October 1982 Republican primary runoff race against Jim Hager that I scored a singular upset victory after trailing most of the night. Longboat Key was one of the last precincts to report. And when the vote from that lone Manatee County precinct on Longboat came in, I carried the north Key by a plurality of 205 votes to defeat my opponent by a scant 186 votes.

I can thank Longboat Key for enabling me to launch my 12-year career on the Manatee County Commission and, specifically, Longboaters Kit Fernald, Bill Mallett, Marty Ervin and the inimitable Bill Carr, plus supporters of ManaSota–88 and its founder, Gloria Rains.

As my boss, The Longboat Observer Editor and CEO Matt Walsh said when I informed him of my decision to retire: “Well, you had a great, long run.”

Indeed. While I will be retired after 82 years, I plan to keep on writing, but without deadline pressures. I feel I have a book or two in my system, and, hopefully, I will achieve this last ambition.
To all the Realtors, friends and loyal readers, I thank you for your interest and support through the years. I wish you all good health and good luck.
— Kent Chetlain

More profits than losses
There were but seven sales on the keys during the second week of February, none of which exceeded $875,000. But, interestingly, only one sold for less than the sellers paid for the property.

It appears this is just another encouraging sign that the economy is making a gradual comeback.

St. Armands Towers North
In an intrafamily sale, Nicholas Lardieri sold his double penthouse 5 and 6 (PH-N) to Nicholas J. and Lois Lardieri for $875,000. The penthouse was acquired for $2.1 million last July.

Located at 1 Ben Franklin Drive, on Lido Beach, the penthouse was constructed in 1968 and has three bedrooms and three baths with 2,880 square feet of living area.

Promenade I
Ann and Ronald Hettinger, of Prospect, Ky., sold their Unit 202 in Section I at the 10-story and 112-unit Promenade to Anna and Janusz Wolaniuk, from St. Louis, for $800,000. The three-bedroom, three-bath condo at 1211 Gulf of Mexico Drive was built in 1985 and has 2,100 square feet of living space. The Hettingers paid $715,000 for the condo in August 2002.

Longboat Beach House
David Meister, 560 Harbor Cove Circle in Bay Isles, bought Unit 101 at the 22-unit Longboat Beach House, 4311 Gulf of Mexico Drive, from five couples for $570,000. The sellers were Margaret and Robert Shatz, of Tucson, Ariz.; Janet and Daniel Snyder, of Bethesda, Md.; Linda and Alan Levenson, of Saratoga, Calif.; Laura and Paul Perl, of Oak Hill, Va.; and Deane and Paul Shatz, 435 L’Ambiance Drive.

The two-bedroom, two-bath condo was built in 1977. The property last sold for $157,500 in April 1993.

Country Club Shores U-I
Kim and David Graf, from St. Charles, Mo., paid $375,000 for the vacant lot at 500 Ketch Lane in Country Club Shores Unit I. The sellers were Julie and Michael Dooley, of Sarasota. The lot has slightly more than 47 feet of frontage on the cul-de-sac end of the canal. The Dooleys paid $240,000 for the lot in July 2007.

The Colony Beach & Tennis Club
Diane and Richard Blanc, 3060 Grand Bay Blvd., sold their half-interest in apartment Unit 111-N at the 237-unit Colony Beach & Tennis Club for $18,000 to Philippa and Steven Freed, from Busey, England. The 705-square-foot apartment at 1620 Gulf of Mexico Drive was built in 1973. The apartment was last sold for $63,800 in March 2001.

Lido Beach Apartments
A four-unit apartment building at 147 Garfield Drive on Lido Key was purchased by Blue Ceiling LLC, of that address, for $431,800 from Eleanor Werbowsky, from Huntington, N.Y.; Maxine Phillips, of Boca Raton; and Gina Rudin, as individuals and as trustees of the estate of Francine Werbowsky, of Danvers, Mass. There are two bedrooms, five bathrooms and three half-baths with 1,765 square feet of living space. The sellers purchased the building for $190,000 in June 1999.

Ambassador on Lido Beach
Cecilia Real, of Elmhurst, Ill., sold her Unit 202 at the Ambassador on Lido Beach to Sydnee and Charles Runyon, from Lesage, W.Va., for $325,000. The two-bedroom, two-bath condo at 800 Ben Franklin Drive was constructed in 1978 and contains 1,150 square feet of living area. The Reals bought the condo for $126,500 in March 1994.

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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