Market snapshot: Hawk's Harbor in southern Manatee County


 PHOTO GALLERY: See more photos from Hawk's Harbor

It’s easy to miss Tiara Drive, the long entranceway, lined with majestic royal palms, leading into Hawk’s Harbor from Bay Drive in southern Manatee County.

But behind the gates is a small enclave of luxury homes with an ambience all its own. Located just northwest of Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, between Bowlees Creek and Bay Drive, it is one of the area’s most charming waterfront developments.

The view from a 2-acre island owned by State Sen. Mike Bennett in Hawk's Harbor. The island, which has utilities and a fire hydrant, is listed at $ 1.99 million through Roger Pettingell of Coldwell Banker Previews. Staff photo / Harold Bubil; 4-1-2014.

The view from a 2-acre island owned by State Sen. Mike Bennett in Hawk's Harbor. The island, which has utilities and a fire hydrant, is listed at $ 1.99 million through Roger Pettingell of Coldwell Banker Previews. Staff photo / Harold Bubil; 

The community was the brainchild of Mike Holderness, president of Sara Bay Real Estate, who lives right across the canal. When he noticed it in the late 1990s, the 30-acre property was known as the Icard Estate, and only two houses were on it.

One, a large Southern Colonial-style residence made of cypress and Georgia longleaf pine, with large columns and generous porches, had been the longtime home of O.R. “Ike” Icard, a timber magnate from North Carolina. He had fallen in love with the area when he and his wife, Toy, visited his parents there in 1929, and they moved to Manatee County in 1916.

Icard, who appreciated the natural beauty of the area, started to buy up land along the picturesque creek and built his home there in 1935. He and his wife lived there for the next 40 years.

The other house belonged to his son, Tom F. Icard, one of the founders of the law firm Icard Merrill. He finished his Bahamas-style home in 1962 and lived in it until his death in 1985. His wife stayed on for another decade, until she moved into a nursing home.

Following her death, Holderness helped settle the estate and approached Manatee County developer and then-state Rep. Mike Bennett with the suggestion of turning the area into a small community of custom-built, luxury waterfront homes. Bennett liked the idea, took on three investment partners and started to develop Hawk’s Harbor. He built his own home in the neighborhood and still lives there.

In early 2000, Holderness helped lay out the 54 lots around a manmade lake with a water fountain in the middle. He was the Realtor for most of the original properties. “We started taking reservations and it took about two years to sell out,” he remembered. “One doctor bought two and put a house in the middle.”

Today, the only vacant land there is one lot and a small island connected to the mainland by a narrow lane and bridge. Thirty-nine of the properties are directly on Sarasota Bay, Bowlees Creek or Crystal Canal; the other 14 back up to the lake. All have private boat docks or a slip on a community pier, offering deep-water access for a variety of boats.

All but two of the recently built homes are elevated to conform to current flood regulations. They are an appealing mix of architectural styles, from Mediterranean to Key West, and they all somehow work together.

Peggy Mock, a Realtor with Michael Saunders & Co., has an attractive five-bedroom, Martha’s Vineyard-style house on the market.

“Every house is different; there are no two homes alike,” she said. “That sets it apart from other enclaves.”

In contrast, the home Realtor Debra Lichter is listing has a style all its own. It was built by the owner of Halfacre Construction, a commercial and industrial contractor, as his private residence. “He was working on U.S. Central Command (headquarters) in Tampa at the time, and it is built like a fortress.”

Since its inception, Hawk’s Harbor has been popular with professionals, boating enthusiasts and retirees looking for an island lifestyle with spectacular sunsets and serenity. Besides Bennett, the best-known resident is golf instructor David Ledbetter.

“There is a real sense of neighborhood,” Lichter said. “People walk their dogs; say ‘hello’ to each other. They all get along well, and everyone looks out for one another.”

Besides the great boating water and scenic views, residents also like the convenient location, halfway between Bradenton and Sarasota. Hawk’s Harbor is only minutes away from the renowned SaraBay and El Conquistador golf courses, tennis courts and clubhouses.

Market Snapshot: Hawk's HarborIMG Academy, the University of South Florida, State College of Florida and New College are all nearby; and shopping and restaurants, the airport, Ringling Museums, Asolo Theater and the Sarasota Ballet are within easy driving distance.

Six homes are on the market, ranging in price from $850,000 to $2,995,000. The island is listed by Roger Pettingell of Coldwell Bankers Preview International for $2 million. Over the past two years, six sales have ranged in price from $505,000 to $1.2 million.

Mock wishes more people knew about Hawk’s Harbor and its distinctive ambience.

“When the gates open, you forget where you’ve been. You feel like you’re leaving one world and entering into another. It’s a very special place,” she said.

Last modified: April 5, 2014
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be published without permissions. Links are encouraged.