Taylor Morrison expands Esplanade brand, not far from Siesta sands


Taylor Morrison’s marketing department understands the power of a preposition.

By, for example. That word comes in handy when a company is trying to sell the beach without having beachfront property. Indeed, Esplanade by Siesta Key “is in proximity to” the famous white-sand Crescent Beach, according to Merriam-Webster’s definition. As in about a mile. Real estate brokers have been glomming on to the Siesta Key label in earnest since Stephen “Dr. Beach” Leatherman named it the No. 1 Beach in America in 2011 — even if some of the homes they are trying to sell are east of the Interstate. So don’t scold Taylor Morrison here. A mile is plenty close enough to sand and surf for cost-conscious buyers who might be retiring from Des Moines or Fort Wayne.





“Being a little over a mile from Siesta Key Beach,” said Taylor Morrison-West Florida’s vice president of sales and marketing, Cammie Longenecker, “we absolutely wanted to capitalize on that, because where else in this location are you going to find more than 200 home sites that can provide new-home construction, gated, and the beach?”

It is close enough for a good walk or a relaxing bike ride, said Longenecker. “Or they can take the bus, or get a friend to take them” to the beach, should Esplanade residents not want to do the Parking Lot Polka from behind their steering wheels at Siesta Beach.

At the new location off Stickney Point Road, just west of Swift Road, the developer is capitalizing on its Esplanade brand of active-adult communities. Unlike Esplanade on Lakewood Ranch, where a golf course is being built, Esplanade by Siesta Key will have no golf course, but plenty of other active-adult amenities, such as a clubhouse and fitness facilities to go with a walkable, gated community with two entrances.

“For those who are not golfers, we offer this alternative. We looked at this as an ideal location to capture the seasonal buyer or the active-lifestyle buyer,” said Longenecker. “Based on the success we have had with Esplanade at Lakewood Ranch, we thought this would be an opportunity to replicate that kind of lifestyle community, between the product, the amenities, and then take advantage of the location.

“We call it active lifestyle. There is no age associated with it. If you love the look and feel of Esplanade at Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club, then this is something we can replicate and you can have the same quality of home, product, lifestyle — although it will be site-specific to some extent.”

So successful has been the Esplanade community at Lakewood Ranch that Taylor Morrison is building two Esplanades in the Naples area and one near Parrish.

For those buyers, Lakewood Ranch’s Esplanade becomes something of the test-drive vehicle.

One unusual facet to Esplanade by Siesta Key is the land itself. Seen from a satellite on Mapquest, it stands out as a big green empty rectangle just east of Sarasota Memorial Park. No where else in south Sarasota could 77 vacant acres be found so close to U.S. 41 and the barrier islands.

But that is an old image. The land, for which Taylor Woodrow paid the Clyde H. Wilson Jr. Family Trust a remarkable $38.5 million, according to county records, in January 2006 before a merger renamed the company Taylor Morrison, is filling in with development now, and quickly.

According to Sarasota County records, as of last Wednesday, Taylor Morrison had closed on four paired villas, averaging $341,800, and 11 houses, averaging $479,000, since the first residents arrived in September.

The houses are on 52-foot lots with 40-foot-wide footprints. At build-out, Esplanade by Siesta Key could have 247 homes, including a possible condominium building in a future phase.

The pairing of the villas, which are separate structures at Lakewood Ranch’s Esplanade, saves land, the cost basis of which is much higher off Stickney Point Road than at LWR. Remember, Taylor Morrison paid $500,000 an acre, among the highest prices ever for such a tract here.

Seven years ago, the company expected to build 360 luxury homes averaging $750,000. Then the market crashed.

Esplanade by Siesta Key has no community development district (CDD) fees. HOA fees for the twin villas are $271 a month to maintain the gated entrance, pay the activities director and fund the roof reserves and paint reserves. House owners pay $235 a month because their fees do not cover roof or paint reserves.

Inside the models, the floor plan is open.

“We got rid of the breakfast nook and took it outdoors,” said Longenecker. “We took all of our living outdoors. The dining room can be formal or informal. We got rid of a lot of the formal spaces because they (owners) are not using it.

“It is about living out by the pool and having big entertaining spaces. Gourmet kitchens, over-the-top spa bathrooms — that is the demand.”

The brisk sales pace indicate how the market has turned. When the company bought the land, the real estate market was at its peak. It had to sit on it for a few years.

“This is the time that we thought it best to bring it into the market,” said Longenecker, noting that Taylor Morrison’s new status as a publicly traded company restricts what she can say about sales.

But one could imagine the stockholders are pleased to see a $38.5 million investment no longer sitting vacant.


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: December 14, 2013
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