Market snapshot: Terrace Gardens, Sarasota



Most of the homes in Terrace Gardens, a charming neighborhood just east of downtown Sarasota, date to the early 1950s, but its history reaches back much further. The area marked the eastern edge of the first Florida golf course, laid out in 1905 by Sarasota founding father John Hamilton Gillespie.

Later it became part of the extensive holdings of Bertha Palmer, the Chicago socialite and businesswoman who purchased nearly 90,000 acres of the Venice-Sarasota region after her first visit here in 1910.

Tucked behind the Ringling Shopping Center and the Ringling Garden Apartments just east of downtown Sarasota, Terrace Gardens is a small subdivision, composed of about 100 homes. Its boundaries are Ringling Boulevard to the north (a row of condominium apartments is not part of the neighborhood), Shade Avenue to the east and the railroad tracks to the south and west.

When the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus still had its winter quarters in Venice, the neighborhood kids would line the backyards along the tracks to watch the animals as the train went by.

The subdivision has plenty of "Old Florida" allure. Mature oaks and lush vegetation surround the small, two-bedroom cottages, which have been well maintained or lovingly renovated. Because of the curving railroad tracks, many of the back yards have unusual shapes.

Charles Burks, an IT consultant who works from home, purchased his house on Pelican Circle in 1998 from the original owners. At the time, he paid $75,000. Today, according to a Trulia estimate, the house is now worth $163,000.

When Burks moved in, he found, in the attic, the original 1952 blueprints and the abstract and title going all the way back to the Palmer estate.

He has renovated and remodeled the interior in vintage-modern style, keeping many of the original moldings and details, including the stucco on the interior walls, and building an addition to house the master bedroom. He is modernizing the kitchen.

Burks loves Terrace Gardens for its convenient location — he considers it a "walk-to-town neighborhood."

Payne Park and the Sarasota Skate Park are close by, and many of the residents go there to walk their dogs, ride their bicycles or have a picnic.

An avid bicyclist, Burk rarely uses his car to get around town. He rides or walks to the new Publix on the Tamiami Trail, or to the bay and the Ringling Bridge. "I hope that the Legacy Trail, which is targeted to end at Payne Park, will be finished in my lifetime," he said with a smile.

Burks also likes the secluded aspect of the neighborhood.

"There aren't any through streets," he said. "Pelican Drive is a curve with little cul de sacs, which add uniqueness and gives you quietness and privacy."

Market Snapshot: Terrace GardensResidents, a mix of renters and primary homeowners, include retirees, working professionals and families with young and teenage children.

According to Burks, several years ago Terrace Gardens and the two contiguous subdivisions east of Shade Avenue, Paver Park and Ringling Gardens, consolidated their neighborhood associations, but the resulting organization has not been very active.

The nearby Ringling shopping center was recently in the news when residents protested the proposed construction of a Walmart store there; the city rejected the bid.

"I hope it will undergo some sort of neighborhood-friendly development. It would be nice to have something that fits into the quiet and smaller-house makeup of the area," Burke said.

The convenience and charm, not to mention the affordability of the homes, make Terrace Gardens an appealing neighborhood.

"There are not many houses for sale, and they typically don't stay on the market for very long," Burks said.

"It's such a desirable nook in the city."

Of the six properties sold in 2012, two were on the market for just eight days, three less than a month. One short sale took three months.

Linda Starcher, a Realtor with Re/Max Alliance Group, has the only active listing in Terrace Gardens; one sale is pending. Her property, an attractive two-bedroom cottage at 2201 Pelican Drive, is a short-sale priced at $119,000.

"The short days-on-market (statistic) supports why this is a high-demand area for those who love vintage styling and affordable neighborhoods," she said.


Last modified: March 29, 2013
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be published without permissions. Links are encouraged.