Market snapshot: Sands Point, southernmost Longboat Key


 PHOTO GALLERY: Sands Point on Longboat Key

On the southernmost point of Longboat Key, Sands Point has everything you would want in a beachfront condominium: extraordinary location, appealing amenities, convenience and charm.

Sands Point is a separate community, but because it lies behind the gates of the Longboat Key Club, it has an attractive golf course, tennis courts, a fitness center and a restaurant within walking distance for residents who decide to join the club.

In addition, there is a detached private swimming pool by the pass, a Jacuzzi that is kept at 104 degrees, and four tiki huts on the beach. The marina on the inlet behind the building has 21 slips and accommodates boats up to 40 feet long.

Market Snapshot: Sands PointSands Point is a rarity on the Gulf Coast — a beachfront condo community that has its own dock and direct access to the Gulf.

The white, three-story structure was designed in the mid-1960s in an oval configuration by architects Carl Vollmer and Earl Draeger. From the air, it looks like a small football stadium with the sides slightly pinched — almost like a figure 8. The covered parking spaces, clubhouse and groundskeeping facilities are on the interior so all of the residences face outward, providing spectacular views of the Gulf, the pass into Sarasota Bay or the sheltered lagoon where the marina sits.

Built like a fortress, with precast, solid concrete floors and support columns, Sands Point was designed to withstand hurricanes. The walls might break away, but the building structure would stand fast.

As one of the earliest apartment complexes erected on Longboat Key, its original purpose was to provide tourist rentals. When it opened in 1966, the one-, two- and three-bedroom units went for $300, $375 and $450 a week, respectively.

It was during the condo craze of the 1970s that an association was formed. It bought out the land lease and took over management of the facility. In those days, Arvida hadn't yet developed the Longboat Key Club, and only the golf course and the beach road existed, along with Australian pines on either side of the development.

Julian Hansen, a retired attorney from Illinois, has been president of the condo association for 27 years. He bought his first unit at Sands Point in 1979, when the only other condos on the southern part of the island were Longboat Towers and The Privateer. "The lane leading here was just a little sand road, and the interior of the place was paved with asphalt," he recalled.

Market Snapshot: Sands Point

Art Buckingham, Sands Point resident. Staff photo / Harold Bubil.

Under his leadership, the facility has undergone considerable renovation and improvement. The asphalt has been replaced with pavers, and the carports were redesigned. Three years ago, the interior of the clubhouse was remodeled in midcentury architectural style, with "tulip" tables and chairs designed by Eero Saarinen, and a full modern kitchen put in.

"We have all kinds of parties and social gatherings here, including red wine and champagne tastings," Hansen said.

Art Buckingham, another board member, joined Sands Point in 2007. Before then, he lived in The Sanctuary, another Longboat Key condominium, and he is adamant he has found the best of all possible worlds. His ground-floor condo has a patio and direct access to the beach. "None of the other highrises have that," he said.

At the same time, his car is parked only steps away from his kitchen.

"If I forget my sunglasses or keys, I'm in and out," he said. "In The Sanctuary, I had to walk from the garage to the elevator, wait for it, go up five stories, and when I'd come down, I'd realize I'd forgotten something else."

Buckingham also loves the convenient location. "I walk to St. Armands every morning. When I lived farther up the key and wanted to do that, I had to pack a lunch," he said humorously.

Hansen agreed. "It's 10 minutes from here to the Van Wezel or downtown, and the parking's free," he says. "In Chicago, it takes me three hours to go to the opera and I have to pay to park my car."

The clubhouse at Sands Point condominium. Staff photo / Harold Bubil; 3-16-2013.

The clubhouse at Sands Point condominium. Staff photo / Harold Bubil; 3-16-2013.

Both Hansen and Buckingham have renovated the interior of their apartments — Hansen lives on the third floor. The larger units all have split floor plans, with the bedrooms on either side of an airy living room. Many of the owners also have converted the spacious, 12- by 15-foot master bedroom closets into additional bedrooms or studies.

Sands Point has 76 residences. About a third of the residents use them year round. The rest are snowbirds.

"It's for people who are drawn to that Old Florida feel — townhouses rather than condo towers," said Perry Corneau, of Sotheby's International Realty, who has sold a number of units at Sands Point.

Turnover is gradual but consistent. In the past two years, six units have sold, ranging in price from $335,000 to $525,000. Six condos are on the market, starting at $429,000 and topping out at $1.3 million.

"Of all the places, this is, without a doubt, the best-kept secret on Longboat Key," Buckingham said.


Last modified: March 23, 2013
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