Market Snapshot: Coral Cove, Sarasota



Driving south on U.S. 41 toward Sarasota Square Mall, you’ll pass a lot of steak houses, car dealerships and small shopping plazas. Nearly lost among them, on the west side of the highway, is the entrance to one of Sarasota’s most attractive waterfront neighborhoods.

The entrance to Coral Cove, next to a strip mall of the same name, is easy to miss — the Herald-Tribune’s photographer even had to turn around after he overshot the mark. But if you take the time to head inside the community, you’re in for a treat.

Market Snapshot: Coral Cove

A fine home in Coral Cove. Photo / Harold Bubil

 “It’s a little, hidden gem,” said Joel Schemmel, of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty. <NO1>“It combines all the best aspects of old Florida with the amenities of contemporary living.”
The names of the streets — Cockleshell Drive, Starfish Drive, Nautilus Drive and Coquina Drive — reflect the seaside atmosphere of the neighborhood. The main thoroughfare, Caribbean Drive, starts as a divided road at the entrance gate and meanders toward the water onto a peninsula that juts, tongue-like, into the Intracoastal Waterway.

“It’s one of the few neighborhoods in Sarasota that has that feature,” says Schemmel. The peninsula gives water frontage to every home on it.
Coral Cove was developed in the early 1950s by the Spencer Miller family of Norwell, Mass. Dirt from digging out the lagoons and canals was deposited on the mangrove islands to create the peninsula. The first homes were completed in 1954. A civic association that formed three years later was incorporated in 1959.

In those days, the most coveted lots on the water sold for $9,500 to $10,000. Apparently, the Millers never made any money on the project, even though they owned more than 100 acres in the development, because a number of the waterfront homes ended up selling at a loss.

The neighborhood was considered family friendly from the beginning. Youngsters would swim from the peninsula to Siesta Key’s Point Crisp Road — another peninsula — directly across Little Sarasota Bay.

Today, Coral Cove has about 200 homes in an eclectic mix of architectural styles among lush and appealing landscaping. Many of the off-the-water 1950s ranch houses have been renovated and remodeled. Million-dollar, estate-style mansions have replaced the original dwellings on the water. Yet they all work together, and Coral Cove benefits from a varied architectural appeal.

“It’s still one of those neighborhoods west of the Trail where you can get a nice home from $200,000 to $400,000,” Schemmel says.

“Even the large waterfront homes are more affordable than in a lot of other places around town. If you go to Oyster Bay or Harbor Acres, you’ll see a price increase of 25 percent.”

Schemmel has sold a number of properties in the neighborhood and currently lists a large house at 1629 Caribbean Drive, priced at $2.7 million.

The 6,150-square-foot mansion is on the north side of the peninsula occupying one of the bigger lots — 160 feet of waterfront — and offers spectacular views from every room of Siesta Key and the channel.

Coral Cove is a suitable neighborhood for boaters. Most of the homes on the canals and Intracoastal have private docks. And the 2-acre community park includes a boat ramp, providing access to all residents. On the weekends, it’s not unusual to see four or five boat trailers lined up at the ramp, their owners getting ready for a day of fishing or other water sports.

The park is a favorite with many of the residents — retirees and working families alike.

“There is a place to picnic, and kids can play football if their own yard is too small,” Schemmel said.

Other amenities include easy access to good schools, the YMCA, shopping, dining and Siesta Key’s world-renowned beach.

Above all, the neighborhood is quiet, and residents like it that way. Because many of the streets are dead-end, there is little traffic from the outside.

“People don’t pay attention to Coral Cove unless they know about it,” Schemmel said.

The community experienced a rollercoaster similar to many other Sarasota neighborhoods during the housing boom and bust.

“It has had its share of short sales and foreclosures, but it has since stabilized,” Schemmel said.

In the past 12 months, seven homes have sold, and two more sales are pending. Of the seven current listings, four are priced at $1 million or more. Overall, prices range from $255,000 to $3.3 million.

“Coral Cove is re-establishing itself,” Schemmel said. “We have cleared out a lot of the distressed inventory, and we’ll slowly see prices inch upward as time goes by.”

Last modified: December 15, 2012
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