Market snapshot: Sarasota's Holiday Harbor



In flat Sarasota, it’s rare to find a waterfront neighborhood that is, at least partially, on high ground.

Holiday Harbor is such a neighborhood.




Besides splendid waterfront views, Holiday Harbor has a noticeable rise in land elevation as one walks east from the bayfront on Holiday Drive. In fact, parts of the neighborhood are in the low-risk “X” flood zone, while land closer to the water is in “A” and “V” zones.

holiday2At a time when flood insurance is of paramount importance to buyers who are mortgaging their homes, the higher ground is a plus for the community.

Convenience is another. Holiday Harbor is close to shopping and Westfield Sarasota Square Mall.

Off-the-water homeowners who want to have a boat close by could use Hidden Harbor Marina, which is nearing completion of a new facility at the east end of the canal, raising the possibility of having a boat stored just steps from your house.

“That is going to be a really nice amenity,” said Realtor Marcia Salkin of Michael Saunders & Co.

The neighborhood also offers a dramatic range of housing options. Recent sales have included non-waterfront houses that sold for $120,000, $95,000, $150,000 and $185,000. Current listings include a foreclosure/teardown at $364,900 and a gated estate with mansion at $7.9 million.

In Sarasota’s waterfront communities, it is common for the rich to live in close proximity to those of much more modest means. A waterfront view makes the difference, along with a lot of land and a big, fancy house.

But that is what makes this bayfront neighborhood interesting. There is something for most everyone.

“It is kind of common,” said Salkin. “All West of the Trail neighborhoods are like that. I think it makes it a real neighborhood. I like that about Sarasota. Either you have deep pockets and are on the water, or you don’t.”

Salkin compares Holiday Harbor with Coral Cove, its better-known and larger neighbor a bit to the north. “Back in the day, you had the small homes and it was a a starter neighborhood, and then the mansions were built on the bay.”

Salkin has a listing on North Holiday Drive. Facing Little Sarasota Bay, the 1972 house sits at ground level on a half-acre behind gates. It is listed at $1.1 million.

“The house is at the end of the cul de sac, on the bay, with an almost 25,000-square-foot lot,” said Salkin. The concrete-block, three-bedroom, three-bath house is on grade, but at an elevation of 11-feet 4-inches. “The land is high, and that is a good selling point today in this market of flood insurance,” said Salkin.

“No matter what, it is still, quote unquote, ‘west of the Trail,’ a good location, and not a lot of through traffic, with a pool, spa and dock,” she added. “I have had quite a bit of interest, and then people start getting nervous about flood insurance. So it will be interesting to me to see if someone tears it down. I think I have it priced around land value, and the house is just a convenience.

“I could see baby boomers buying it and renting it out for a few years until they are ready to build their dream house. I think it is ‘highest and best use’ to do something fabulous when you are on the water. It is a great lot and you could build a much bigger house.I think there is great value in there,” said Salkin.

On the opposite corner of North Holiday Drive, a 2,751-square-foot house built in 1977, with 300 feet of waterfront, is listed at $1,486,000 through Karen Greco of Michael Saunders & Co. It has three-fourths of an acre.

But down the street is the ugly duckling of the neighborhood — a bank-owned foreclosure on the north side of the canal, listed at $364,900 by the Troy Funk Team at Allison James Estates & Homes. Funk’s listing summary calls it “the worst-looking house on a beautiful street,” with “great potential to renovate or tear down.” The blue tarp on the roof makes it easy to spot, and, as the aging house is on grade, the bulldozer treatment appears appropriate to this reporter.

The crown jewel of the neighborhood is at 7922 S. Holiday Drive. It’s a 3.55-acre estate with an 8,505-square-foot house that is listed at $7.9 million through Rod Underdahl of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty.

The estate has a privacy wall and gate, lushly landscaped grounds and a 125-foot dock with two boat lifts.

The house, built in 2001, has Pella windows and doors, coral cast-stone architectural features, mahogany front doors, a porte cochere, two commercial-grade elevators, two wet bars, a summer kitchen, travertine floor and granite counters, three fireplaces, a generator and a ground-level motor salon that is air-conditioned and has space for 12 cars.

Several large dumpsters can be found in front yards where houses are being renovated. Two new houses are under construction.

Holiday Harbor has no homeowners association, so there are no dues, and also no deed restrictions.

Holiday Harbor also has an enclave of cute office buildings, Snug Harbor Village, that look like vintage houses. A large office building on pilings sits on South Holiday Drive.

The market is back to normal, said Salkin, with “real buyers, end buyers (not investors) buying the houses they want as either second homes or primary homes.”


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: January 3, 2014
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