Market snapshot: McIntosh Lake in Sarasota


McIntosh Lake is a charming, deed-restricted neighborhood on the west side of McIntosh Road, just south of Wilkinson Road. Its 80 homes are situated on both sides of a looping road surrounding a narrow, L-shaped lake.

Mature palm trees, live oaks and magnolias abound. There is plenty of wildlife, too — otters and turtles frolic in the water, and a variety of birds make the place their nesting grounds.


The old Seminole Gulf Railway right of way that runs along the neighborhood’s western border is the only remnant of the area’s earlier history. In the 1920s, the subdivision was part of Bee Ridge village, a thriving farming community that had its own post office, barbershop, dairy, women’s club and sawmill. The Seaboard Air Line Rail Road made a stop there on its way to Venice. Tickets to downtown Sarasota cost 15 cents.

Market Snapshot: McIntosh LakeFor the next 70 years, much of the area was vegetable farms, pasture and citrus groves. In 1993, Wen Chung, a general contractor, bought the land for McIntosh Lake from two orange-growing families. He wrote the original declaration of deed restrictions and incorporated the homeowners association two months before the actual sale closed.

After he platted McIntosh Lake in January 1994, he started to sell lots right away. The first, a prime lakefront property, went for $49,800. Over the next five years, the rest — most a little less than half an acre in size, with slightly larger lots along the railroad tracks and at the corners of the loop — sold for $35,000 to $53,000 as the community was built out.

Initially, there were three builders — Lee Wetherington Homes, Bamboo Homes and Gulf Pointe Homes. They bought lots and put up three- and four-bedroom spec houses. Property owners could bring in their own builders, as long as their residences were “harmonious to the community.” All roofs, for example, had to be of glazed tile, ceramic tile, clay tile, cement tile or slate/metal with a tile appearance. No shingles were allowed. Backyard fences had to be 6-foot horizontal slats and could not be stained or painted.

The combination of tight controls and several builders has given McIntosh Lake its appealing appearance — a cohesive look, yet with an attractive variety of front elevations.

Kimberlie MacDonald, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker, has lived in the neighborhood for 11 years and said she loves it. “It’s a great location. It takes me a minute and a half to get to the grocery store, My office is on State Road 70 in Bradenton, and the drive to work, on I-75, is only 16 minutes. Siesta Key and downtown Sarasota are about the same.”

MacDonald chose the neighborhood because of its family-friendly atmosphere and the school districts: Ashton Elementary, Sarasota Middle and Riverview High.

“I used to live in a townhouse in Alexandria, Va., where my children played in an alley; and we thought we’d give them a nice big yard, but here they just played in the street,” she said.

She also likes serenity and laid-back atmosphere. “People are friendly. They walk their dogs and chit-chat.”

The subdivision has two entrances, but there is little traffic from the outside.

“Every once in a while, you see cars come through,” MacDonald said, “and you know they don’t belong because they’re scooting through too fast from Wilkinson to avoid the light at McIntosh. But we know who they are!”

Residents include year-round retirees, snowbirds and working professionals. A dozen are the original owners.

“It’s a nice mix of all ages and nationalities,” MacDonald said.

Her immediate neighbors include a retired scientist, an ex-military couple with two young boys, and an 86-year-old who has a summer home on Martha’s Vineyard. When MacDonald had two coconut trees in her front yard, she used to swap coconuts for mangos with an Asian couple that lives on the other side of the loop.

Because people who come into the neighborhood tend to stay, there is little turnover. Over the past year, five homes have sold, ranging in price from $229,500 to $349,900, but only nine properties have passed hands since 2010. Currently, there are no houses on the market.

Instead, many homeowners have renovated and remodeled, adding rooms or second stories to their residences. At the height of the boom, the home MacDonald had bought for $252,000 was valued at $625,000. Now, with the additions and improvements, she believes it is probably worth $375,000.

But MacDonald has no plans to move. “I think it’s a super neighborhood. I really lucked out,” she says.


Last modified: September 7, 2013
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