Closing the kitchen, rental office


It's called Pelton Place because the owners, Dick and Dee Pelton, bought it in 1991 and decided to corral the buildings into one compound with a common name. Besides, they just liked the sound of it.

But before they came onto the scene to unify their north Longboat Key property use for both residential and rental purposes, one of the buildings had been the Longboat Key Police headquarters in the 1960s, and, after that, had housed a real estate business. (FOR A PHOTO GALLERY ACCOMPANYING THIS STORY, CLICK HERE.)

There's also a quaint, flat-roof cottage, built in 1948, on the property that today retains its pecky cypress beams in the carport and screened porch, as well as original beadboard walls and pine floors inside.

And the clever built-ins make you envy the practicality of the original contractor. Refurbished by the Peltons, the mellow-yellow cottage is a vintage gem that the owners use as a guest house for visiting friends and relatives, including four grandchildren. But new owners could use it as a rental on a seasonal or annual lease.

The whole nicely landscaped property — main house on the bay, duplex on the road and cottage in between — is on the market for $2,950,000 through Barbara Ackerman of Coldwell Banker.

The Peltons live in the bayside, 5,416-square-foot contemporary home with high ceilings and impressive water vistas. Dee Pelton designed it with architect Ed Wood. Its open-concept floor plan was configured to maximize the views and natural light, and to accommodate a lot of people for parties.

Dee Pelton is a native of Louisville, Ky., and known in several states for her Kentucky Derby parties — she has been photographed in Vanity Fair magazine at the famous race on Derby Day — as well as for her Southern hospitality.

She also operated an art gallery in Louisville for 15 years and brought a substantial art collection with her to Florida. So the Peltons needed expanses of wall for display. They did not originally intend to live on the property that they purchased for investment 22 years ago.

"When we bought the property, we were living in Branford, Conn., and I worked in New Haven as the president of the Winchester Repeating Arms company," said Dick Pelton. "We had a vacation place at the Harbor Villa Club on Longboat, which we bought in 1987. One Easter weekend a few years later, when we were down here, a Realtor alerted me to an investment opportunity before the for-sale sign went up.

"It was a weird piece of land with some rental units on it, and some jungle-like land that stretched to the bay. In the middle of everything was an Australian pine that, I swear, went up 150 feet. There were also pine trees and a big banyan. I put a deposit down that day and we went back to Connecticut as landlords."

In 1998, the Peltons sold their house in Connecticut and retired to Florida, "ready to build our dream house on Longboat Key. It was at that point we decided to build at Pelton Place. Our house is now where that Australian pine tree was."

The couple found that building was easy to decide to do, but difficult to actually do. "Dee and the architect got the house plans finished in no time, and we lived in one of the rentals on the property so that we could oversee the building of our home," said Dick. "But a job that should have taken about nine months eventually stretched into 19 months because of permitting issues and town restrictions.

"There were a lot of things to work out, and all of it was frustrating, but finally our dream house was finished and we moved in. I have to say it's been ideal ever since."

Once in Florida fulltime and ostensibly retired, Dick Pelton received an unexpected consulting offer from another gun company that evolved into a time-consuming job. Also, both he and Dee got involved in town and church activities as well as hosting friends and family from out of state.

"On top of that, we found ourselves in the property-management business with Pelton Place," said Dick. "We determined not to do seasonal rentals but long-term leases, and it has worked out. The average time our tenants have stayed with us has been six years, and they've generally been people who work on Longboat Key.

"We kept the rents lower than what we could ask because we wanted to rent to year-round local people."

But over the years, the responsibilities of running Pelton Place have become more than the couple wants to deal with. "We sold our boat three years ago," said Dick, "and I'm going to fully retire this year — this time, I'm staying retired. We've decided to downsize and move to The Sarasota Bay Club and experience a relaxing downtown life with easy access to restaurants, theater, shops and that kind of thing.

"Dee says the kitchen is closed; we're eating out from now on, and we're not going to be landlords any more, either."

Pelton Place offers several opportunities for a new owner. The main house can be rented, as can the guest cottage. The duplex can continue to be rented or torn down and a single-family home put in its place and either lived in or sold. The duplex is on two buildable lots.

"There's lot of flexibility on this multi-residence property," said Realtor Barbara Ackerman. "And a really nice feature is that the water here is ideal for boating because it's deep. But a real selling point is the deeded direct private access to the Gulf beach. That's unusual and gives this property an extra special quality."


Marsha Fottler

Marsha Fottler has been a newspaper and magazine lifestyle, food and design writer since 1968 first in Boston and in Florida since 1970. She contributes to regional and national publications and she is co-publisher and editor of a monthly online magazine that celebrates the pleasures of the table called Flavors & More. (941) 371-8593.
Last modified: March 6, 2013
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