Market snapshot: Harold Bubil's neighborhood hall of fame


Correspondent Chris Angermann is taking a break from writing the Market Snapshot feature this week, which gives us the perfect opportunity to try something new.

Namely, "list journalism." You know: "The 10 Best Places to Retire Rich," "The 10 Least-Likely Cities in Which You Will Witness a SWAT Team Raid," "The 20 Best Towns for Affordable Grow Houses."


Such pablum is a reporting trend that no less a figure than Tom Brokaw bludgeoned in a recent installment of the radio series that is keeping him occupied in retirement.

Market Snapshot: Hawk's HarborMr. Brokaw apparently has not had to fill in for the productive Chris Angermann recently. When that becomes necessary, you do what you have to do.

Namely, list journalism: "The 11 Best Neighborhoods in Sarasota-Manatee-Charlotte Counties That Have Been Profiled in 'Market Snapshot,' as chosen by Harold Bubil."

Keep in mind that this list is totally subjective, not at all scientific, and in no way based on any fact other than these neighborhoods are especially photogenic. They have a certain ambience — spelled ambiance by the wealthy and their Realtors.

The process for selecting our "Neighborhood Hall of Fame" is akin to reducing your standard beauty pageant to a meat market. There is no talent competition, no walking down the staircase in heels and an evening gown (don't scoff unless you can do it), no tricky questions about maps. They just have to look good in swimsuits.

These places do look good, for sure.

Fully aware that some people will take offense if their neighborhoods are left off the list, let us explain that it is all about the images. And the space available in this section.

While Mr. Angermann conducts the interviews and pores over the facts, your real estate editor cares mainly about the photos. "Pretty" counts for a lot. So do inviting streetscapes, big shade trees, interesting architecture, a strong sense of history and water features (anything bigger than a sprinkler head will do).

All preferably seen on a sunny day.

Most importantly, these Hall of Fame neighborhoods create an enduring and endearing sense of place. That is the key element of a good neighborhood.

Yes, a lot of great neighborhoods — the Museum District, Bird Key, Harbor Acres, etc. — are not on the list; there is always next time.

So here is the list, in no particular order.


1 Bungalow Hill/Sarasota Heights, Sarasota. Charming old houses, impressive new ones, great street names, and a close-to-the-hospital location. Yes, this is convenient for doctors, so the rest of you might not care, but if I land in SMH with a mysterious ailment (on a weekend, of course, because when else do we get mysterious ailments?), I want my doctor to be able to get there really fast.

2 Historic District, Punta Gorda. Neat, trim, century-old homes; public park on Peace River; sidewalks; royal palms; walking distance to cutest downtown in the area; safe; little traffic on the brick grid streets. A subtropical Mayberry.

3 McClellan Park, Sarasota. With charming cottages, an impressive, walled estate, a midcentury modern to go with a new modern under construction, and curving streets with names like Illehaw and Sioux, McClellan Park still retains the ambience of its pre-World War I development by the McClellan sisters, even as grand new houses change this part of town. There's even a 100-year-old school house, now vacant.

4 Laurel Park/Washington Park, Sarasota. This residential area is about as close to downtown as it gets in Sarasota, and has a great stock of historic houses with progressive new ones mixed in. Laurel Park and Washington Park were developed during the 1920s Florida Land Boom; several houses are historically designated. A 1920s apartment building adds to the housing choices.

5 Lido Shores, Sarasota. The architectural mecca of the Gulf Coast this side of New Orleans, Lido Shores is where modernism rules. Developed in 1950 by Phil Hiss, Lido Shores ("Lido C" on the plat maps) helped put Sarasota on the architectural map. The houses on Westway Drive, viewing New Pass, the Gulf of Mexico, or both, have set records for selling price. No less a design talent than Paul Rudolph sharpened his skills here.

6 Hawk's Harbor, Bradenton. This relatively new waterfront enclave of luxury homes occupies a prime position on Sarasota Bay, looking south. Mangroves offer protection for the residents' boats. The interior of the development, which has a variety of architecturally appealing houses, is punctuated by attractive ponds. A one-lane, wooden bridge leads to an island with a large buildable lot that is for sale.

7 Point Pleasant, Bradenton. Nestled on a point between the Manatee River and Wares Creek, just a short walk from downtown Bradenton, Point Pleasant has vintage homes built by many of Bradenton's prominent families of days gone by, including the Green, Rossi, Reasoner and Vanderipe families. It also has a housing stock that includes condominiums and duplexes among the historic houses, both big and small. And several new houses have gone up recently.

8 Manasota Key, Englewood. In some places, Manasota Key still has the feeling of an Old Florida fish camp. In others, it is totally up to date, with notable homes that include architect James Bowen's landmark "Turtle House." Serious development of Manasota Key began in the 1970s. Since then, it has been almost completely built out, but with only 453 homes, it maintains its pristine quality. Watch out for the gopher tortoises.

9 Sanderling Club, Siesta Key, Sarasota. One of the area's most exclusive beachfront neighborhoods, Sanderling is noted for both its residential architecture and the beach cabanas and clubhouse designed in the 1950s by Paul Rudolph. If one wishes to spend $10 million or more for a house on the sand, one could find it here.

10 Hidden River, Myakka City. Remote is one word that describes Hidden River. Unique is another. Hidden along the Myakka River near the east end of Fruitville Road, Hidden River has interesting homes, and a most unusual traffic rule for drivers: Yield to aircraft. Each house has a hangar, and there's an airport for small planes.

11 Island of Venice, Venice. Thank you, John Nolen, noted city planner of the early 1900s, for creating a treasure that keeps giving to this day. It is downtown Venice, brainchild of Dr. Fred Albee, later developed by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers just as the 1920s boom was coming to an end. The Brotherhood lost its shirt (not before a bevy of classic homes were built), but the city rebounded after World War II and it keeps getting better — if you can overlook the traffic. Such is the cost of success.


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: April 26, 2014
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