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Neighborhood Spotlight: The Uplands

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  • | 11:00 p.m. February 4, 2015
Lake Uplands is an natural spring-fed body of water, although it was once mistaken for a stormwater retention pond. Photos by Jessica Salmond
Lake Uplands is an natural spring-fed body of water, although it was once mistaken for a stormwater retention pond. Photos by Jessica Salmond
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Tucked out of sight offNorth Tamiami Trail, The Uplands is home to about 110 residents. The small community along the bay was once part of the neighboring Indian Beach/Sapphire Shores neighborhood association, but it maintains its own identity.

The original developers of The Uplands were Virginia and Augustine Thierry and Jeanette and Paul Thielen, who built their own homes on Poinciana Drive and Parkview drives in the late 1940s. One of the original homebuilders in The Uplands was Herbert Braren, who lived in one of the first homes he built in the neighborhood, on Poinciana Drive, from 1950 until his death in 2012 at the age of 101. 

The neighborhood’s original houses, all built around the late 1940s, all have a similar architecture and design. The most common design is international style, although there are a few Spanish-style homes.

The neighborhood has its own natural centerpiece: a spring-fed pond, dubbed “Lake Uplands.” It was first recognized in the 1890s, when the neighborhood was first platted, said Kafi Benz, one of The Uplands’ residents.

The seven homeowners surrounding the lake own it. They are responsible for the maintenance and landscape of the lake and the surrounding land; they all contribute to an annual fund to pay for the upkeep.

Although the lake attracts a variety of native Florida birds, three white ducks have claimed the territory as their home.

The ducks are the last line in of a family a previous neighbor brought in, Benz said. The former resident raised the ducks and set them loose on the pond. At the peak of his roost, there were 25 to 30 living there.
Besides the peaceful fresh water, the residents have a second nature hub right on the bayfront. The narrow, 272,173-square-foot plot of parkland area to the west of the neighborhood is jointly owned by the state and New College of Florida. It used to belong to The Uplands Neighborhood Association, but the president of the association turned it over to the state when the organization became quiescent a few years ago, Benz said. But the association could be revived again soon; neighbors are meeting later this month to discuss the association’s future.

Herbert Braren, one of the original developers of The Uplands, built thousands of homes and other buildings throughout his career, including overseeing the design and construction of the Frank G. Berlin YMCA and the First Methodist Church sanctuary, education building, renovations of the historic chapel and the current chapel of officers.

Location: Between U.S. 41 and Sarasota Bay, from Edwards Drive to Parkview Drive, which overlooks the Ringling Estate.

What’s in a name? The Uplands is a tribute to the fact that the land on which the neighborhood was developed sits up to 26 feet above sea level, resident Kafi Benz said. The northern lots on Uplands Boulevard are 14 feet above sea level, among the highest bayfront land in Sarasota.

Built in: The land was platted in the 1890s and built out in the 1940s and ’50s; most of the 110 homes are original.

Unique feature: The neighborhood is home to a private lake, which seven of the residents surrounding the lake maintain. The lake is most notably home to a duck family, which a former resident introduced.

The neighborhood’s northernmost street, Edwards Drive, is also the boundary line between Sarasota and Manatee counties. The street is named after the seventh city of Sarasota mayor, A.B. Edwards, who grew up in area.


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