Bubil: Modernism fest is in the works


You want the good news first, or the bad news?

OK, let’s start with the good news. At least it is good if you are an architecture buff.

The Sarasota Architecture Foundation is in the early stages of planning a four-day architecture festival, inspired by Modernism Week in Palm Springs, Calif.

The dates, as of now, are Oct. 10-13. Events would include lectures featuring such noted speakers as historian Jeff LaHurd, Ringling College Prof. Christopher Wilson, architects Tim Seibert, Carl Abbott, Joe King, Jonathan Parks, Greg Hall, Joyce Owens and John Howey.

A local real estate editor who is prone to extremely dry ad lib humor is also on the draft schedule.

The SAF has a busy year of events scheduled, starting with Wilson’s Thursday lecture on the work of architect Victor Lundy (see story on this page).

The same can be said for the Center for Architecture Sarasota, which will build its roster with a members-only tour at 3:30 p.m. next Sunday of the Ohana estate on Longboat Key. Information: CFASRQ.org. CFAS also will be bringing in architecture professors from the University of Florida, among other speakers, for events this year in downtown Sarasota. CFAS is helping UF implement its CityLab-Sarasota, which will offer master’s degrees in architecture.

Now the bad news

The Biggert-Waters Flood Reform Act has scared the bejeebers out of the real estate community, as property owners see their flood insurance premiums jump to levels that are, in many cases, unaffordable.

“Flood insurance has definitely become the next ‘scary’ factor in home-buying. Lots of up-front research is necessary,” said Maryann Lawler of Keller Williams in Bradenton. Some property owners are afraid of losing their homes, but, said Lawler, “our Realtor PAC (political action committee) is working hard, especially in the state of Florida, to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Economist Jack McCabe of Deerfield Beach and luxury property appraiser Don Saba of Sarasota foresee some dramatic impacts on the real estate market.

“It could destroy the economy,” said McCabe. “This will have a devastating impact in the population centers along the coast.

“It may be the greatest single factor affecting prices in 2014, if they (members of Congress) don’t do something to repeal, delay or modify it and put in place soomething that is much more practical,” said McCabe, adding that hedge funds that have invested in rental houses could also be badly hurt.

“In some areas, it is going to require more cash purchases rather than financing, which is going to limit the market,” said Saba.

“There are people who could swing borrowing the money to buy a $2 million house, but they don’t want to pay $60,000 insurance premiums. That is going to limit those buyers. Overall, that will have an impact on the market down the road.

“We are going to see far fewer 50 percent-rule reconstruction jobs because the premiums are going out of sight in some areas,” said Saba. “People are going to be more inclined to purchase properties where they raze the structures and build anew to FEMA standards.

“But we don’t know, until everything shakes out, how that is going to affect the market. I believe it is going to. But how much or when, we don’t know.”

One final note

Local fire stations are getting a lot of calls from homeowners who are alarmed by by the smell of their heaters coming on for the first time in months. This is simply the burning off of dust that has built up on the heating coil and is not dangerous. It doesn’t last long.

So we end on some good news.


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 25, 2014
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