Market snapshot: Venice Farms in Venice



It’s the neighborhood for people who might not want neighbors.

Venice Farms and North Venice Farms has large home sites where horses and other farm animals share wide open spaces with people.

One residence has 101 acres, a racetrack and a mansion — listed at $8.9 million. Another is a tiny cottage from the 1920s Land Boom. Most of the ranchettes have 5 and 10 acres, plenty for some horses. Some are larger, some are smaller and some are vacant.

venicefarmmain1Despite the wide open countryside, one thing the residents of Venice Farms have is convenience. Venice Avenue provides quick access to downtown south of Interstate 75, which runs through the neighborhood. North of I-75, residents use Border Road and Jacaranda Boulevard to reach the interstate and Venice Avenue.




“The appeal is the country lifestyle, but still being close to all the amenities of Venice and Sarasota,” said Carol Clark of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, who has the 101-acre ranch listing. “Kind of like the country gentleman — someone who wants country life but still wants everything nearby.”

Clark said some Venice Farms residents are business people who work in town.

venicefarmmain2“It is a getaway, a little bit of a retreat where they can go home and get out a little ways from everybody and have some space to stretch,” she said. “But they can be in their offices in 10 to 20 minutes, depending.

A new Publix is nearby on Jacaranda.

Venice Farms was a part of legendary town planner John Nolen’s concept for Venice in the mid-1920s, when the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers bet its members’ pension fund on the Florida Land Boom — and lost. The BLE was too late to the game.

Nolen’s plan, which created the beautiful downtown area Venetians and visitors enjoy today, included agricultural land out east. Venice Farms was to include thousands of acres, with several demonstration farms growing beans, cucumbers, strawberries, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, squash, peas and watermelon.

The Venice Co. promised buyers the farmland would be cleared, plowed and ready for planting when they took title.

Venice Farms also had a dairy farm, with a barn that could milk 100 cows at a time, along with a creamery and a bottling plant, and a poultry farm. The 2,500 hens probably laid more eggs than could be consumed in Venice, which largely emptied out in 1927 when the boom went bust.

Eventually, the market recovered, but Venice Farms retains the feeling of rural Old Florida. While most properties are well maintained, the area has a rustic appeal. It is common to see dirt paths leading from cattle gates to main houses hidden in the trees or behind rail fences.

There is no homeowners’ association, a situation that appeals to a lot of residents, Clark said.

“They want to have their independence and freedom to do their own thing,” she said. “Once you go behind your own gate, you have the ability to do that.

“But it is well maintained, and everyone does take a lot of pride in their properties. Sometimes, when you get out in the country, you get a little bit of a rundown feeling. Some properties have a rough edge and are an eyesore. But these are upscale ranches.”

One of Clark’s listings is a 10-acre parcel at 3157 Ewing Drive with a main house and a new, unique wooden guest house with dramatic architecture. It is listed at $1.9 million.

“It is a really neat property where the owner can keep horses,” Clark said. “He is a hobbyist who makes stained glass, and is a wine collector, who has a big dog and likes to watch movies. For him, it is really a man cave out there. It is finished off beautifully, and, when guests come, it is a guest house.”

There’s also space for parking multiple cars and a workshop.

“The home itself is very nice,” Clark said, “but the guest house is for someone who has this whole other outside interest and they need a space to do that.”

Not far away, at 600 N. Jackson, is DeVita Ranch, one of the region’s outstanding properties. Clark has it listed at $8.9 million. Besides the 19,100-square-foot main house, with decor and detailing that would impress John and Mable Ringling, there’s a guest house, a 22-stall stable, 10 paddocks, an equipment barn, caretakers’ apartments, a pool and 101 acres of meticulously maintained land, neatly divided by wooden fences. There’s even a racetrack for horses.

The property is a resort unto itself for the family’s three children, but Venice Farms has other recreational opportunities. The T. Mabry Carlton Reserve is close by, and two branches of the Myakka River provide fishing and kayaking fun. Curry Creek also runs through Venice Farms.

As for the Interstate, most residents hardly know it is there, most days.

“It depends on which way the wind is blowing,” Clark said. “Some days, I have been on the property and it is as quiet as can be, and other days you really do hear that noise.”

Six properties are for sale in the Venice Farms area, priced from $260,000 to $8.9 million. Recent sales have ranged from $70,000 for vacant land to $550,000 for a five-bedroom, 4,000-square-foot house on 6 acres. Several of the sales in the past several years, particularly in 2012, have been short sales. Some ranchettes are as small as 3.5 acres.

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: November 29, 2013
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