Market snapshot: Sarasota's Gulf Gate East



It's hard to believe people once thought of Gulf Gate East as too far off the beaten track, considering how conveniently located it seems now. The attractive neighborhood of more than 300 homes lies on the east side of Beneva Road, less than a mile south of Clark Road. Three large shopping malls, Siesta Key beaches and Interstate 75 are within 15 minutes by car. Downtown Sarasota is only a little farther.

Gary Johnson, who was the project manager for U.S. Home in the early to mid-1980s, when it developed the neighborhood, still remembers the public reaction. "At the time, it was considered too far out. People kept asking us why we were doing it. Before we got part-way through, though, it turned out to be a super location, well in the center of things."

Market Snapshot: Gulf Gate EastJohnson is now the president of Tivoli Homes, a custom builder in Sarasota. When he became involved in Gulf Gate East, U.S. Home had just added four new models. "They were the first four houses on the left of Kingston Drive as you go into the neighborhood."

U.S. Home built all the houses in the subdivision, giving buyers a choice of seven or eight models, with different sizes and floor plans. "They all had three to five different exterior elevations to keep the neighborhood from being cookie-cutter," Johnson said.

Houses range from 1,200 to 3,600 square feet. The larger ones were built last on some of the cul de sacs in the rear of the neighborhood. "Prices were rising, and that's what the market called for," Johnson said. "Sales were brisk. We sold four to eight homes a month."

Other things helped make Gulf Gate East attractive to buyers, including lakes and 100-year-old oak trees. Lots are as large as an acre. Kingston Boulevard, the main thoroughfare that loops around the neighborhood, is considerably wider than the side streets, giving the area an open feeling. (FOR A GALLERY OF PHOTOS PERTAINING TO THIS STORY, CLICK ON THIS LINK.)

"This day and age, when the cost of land is higher, we wouldn't do developments like this," Johnson said.

Andy Podolak, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker, agreed, saying, "You have more room than in the newer developments, and a lot of people like that."

Podolak has sold a number of properties in Gulf Gate East over the years, and he currently has a listing at 6667 Easton Drive. He likes the variety of homes and their attractive appearance.

"The foliage is mature, and the landscaping very appealing," he said. "The neighborhood is very well maintained, with high pride of ownership."

"I drove through there not too long ago, and the place looked good," Johnson said. "It's a nice development that has stood the test of time well."

An active homeowners association takes care of the lakes and the landscaping at the entrance. Because the community has no common amenities, such as a clubhouse or community pool, fees are only $170 a year.

The community website touts the Gulf Gate East experience as "life in paradise."

People who have bought into that lifestyle are a mix of retirees, snowbirds, working professionals and families with children of all ages, who attend Gulf Gate Elementary, Sarasota Middle and Riverview High School.

Charlie Bradt, who divides his time between upstate New York and Sarasota, has lived in Gulf Gate East for 10 years. He likes it for its convenient location and spaciousness but, above all, he cherishes the quiet atmosphere and sense of privacy. "People are friendly but not intrusive.

No wonder Gulf Gate East is a popular neighborhood. Not to mention that property values are in that "hot" price range for affordable houses. In the past six months, 11 sales ranged in price from $170,000 to $385,000. Eight sales are pending.

Currently, inventory is quite low, with only three homes on the market, priced from $205,000 to $268,000.

"If a home is reasonably priced and in good condition, it sells within a month," Podolak said.


Last modified: June 15, 2013
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