Bubil: Caterers don their bowties


During that real estate boom that we just can’t forget, one group of people that had plenty to do worked in the catering industry. Every night, almost, there was another expensive party to announce this condo or that subdivision. Food had to be served and drinks poured.

Then came the bust, and the caterers had to hang up their white shirts and bow ties.

Now, though, they are busy again. The latest assignment was a grand-opening party on Thursday for the Aqua condominium, to be built on Golden Gate Point and designed by Guy Peterson.

A couple nights earlier, Lakewood Ranch held an opening party for its annual Tour of Homes. And last weekend, caterers were busy as the Center for Architecture Sarasota had its first event, at the Spencer Home on Orange Avenue.

My take: It starts with the caterers. When they get busy, the carpenters had better start sharpening their saws.

Another hors d’oeuvre, please?

Speaking of Lakewood Ranch, its 16th annual Tour of Homes is featured on this page, and it strikes me how the local building industry has two such events. The Sarasota-Manatee Building Industry Association, formerly the Home Builders Association, has its Parade of Homes in the winter.

Lakewood Ranch supports that event with a lot of model-home entrants, but also feels big enough to have its own, calling it a Tour of Homes. “That is how we differentiate,” said LWR Vice President Jimmmy Stewart.

“We are event-marketing driven,” said Stewart. Translation: LWR puts on everything from a Beer Fest to sports events in an effort to bring people to Lakewood Ranch, and, ultimately, buy houses.

With 18,000 residents now, Lakewood Ranch is something of its own real estate market.

“We are a microclimate, if you will,” said Stewart, “an island. What is going on locally, statewide or nationally, we differ from.

“Through the downturn, we kept investing in infrastructure and improvements. We slowed as everyone did, but we kept an eye on the future and teed up for the return of growth.”

Evidence: Year-to-date, the average new-home sale price is up 10 percent in LWR.

Another tidbit: Through September of this year, Lakewood Ranch sold 453 new houses and 376 resales.

“That means jobs” for builders and subcontractors, said Stewart.

One more: Lakewood Ranch has a diversified mini-economy with “zero vacancy on Main Street,” its upscale dining and shopping center.

“Our goal is two jobs per household, or about 18,000. We are somewhere around 14,000.”

That’s daytime jobs on LWR’s campus, said Stewart. It doesn’t include building subcontractors.


Harold Bubil

Recipient of the 2015 Bob Graham Architectural Awareness Award from the American Institute of Architects/Florida-Caribbean, Harold Bubil is real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Born in Newport, R.I., his family moved to Sarasota in 1958. Harold graduated from Sarasota High School in 1970 and the University of Florida in 1974 with a degree in journalism. For the Herald-Tribune, he writes and edits stories about residential real estate, architecture, green building and local development history. He also is a photographer and public speaker. Contact him via email, or at (941) 361-4805.
Last modified: October 26, 2013
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