Market Snapshot: Serenoa, Sarasota

Market Snapshot: Serenoa

This Serenoa Lakes house is listed for sale at $1.1 million. Staff photo / Harold Bubil.

In the late 1980s, Cy Bispham began to make plans to develop 383 acres of his family’s farmland east of Interstate 75 into a golf-course community. It was to be called Serenoa, after the many saw palmettos that dotted the landscape — "serenoa repens" is the botanical name for the palm-like shrub.

The Bisphams had been in the milk business since 1922, when Cy’s father started a dairy north of Sarasota. As the area grew, they kept moving operations, first to the South Tamiami Trail and Fiesta Street, then to the Gulf Gate area, and finally in 1957 to Ibis Street off Clark Road.
By the time Bayside Dairy closed in 1987 because land use for dairy operations was no longer profitable, it had approximately 850 cows and 15 employees.

For Cy Bispham, the name Serenoa suggested a sense of serenity and natural beauty.
He envisioned a spacious development with low-density housing that would use the natural beauty of the grazing meadows, wetlands, woods and marshes.

When getting the necessary permits and bank loans ran into some snags, Bispham used the extra time well. He planted a tree farm in order to supply mature shade trees for the farm land. Finally, in the early 1990s, he was able to realize his dream.

As a result, the houses sit on large lots and range from 3,000-square-foot houses to 4,700-square-foot estates. The architecture is a mix of Mediterranean and Tuscan styles; they are constructed by well-established builders such as Arthur Rutenberg Homes and Peregrine Homes. Most of them back onto deep-water lakes or the fairways of the Serenoa Golf Club.
Wildlife abounds throughout the community. It’s not unusual to see  sandhill cranes, deer and otters frolicking on the lawns and in the ponds. The largest lake covers 30 acres and is stocked with a variety of fish. Outsiders can get fishing permits if they are sponsored by one of the homeowners. Otherwise, a sign says fishing is for residents only.

The 18-hole, par-72 golf course was designed by Mark David Alden, who used the existing wetlands and topography to create one of the area’s most attractive and challenging links. Serenoa is listed among Florida’s top 100 courses by “Florida Golf News” and is considered one of Sarasota’s top three golf courses. Hole No. 1, with its multiple water hazards, is perhaps the most intimidating opening hole in the region.

Serenoa, where the Serenoa Golf Club is located, and Serenoa Lakes are separate communities and have their own entrances on Ibis Road. The latter was developed in early 2000 and has 92 homes, all built by Arthur Rutenberg Homes/M. Pete McNabb, said David Anderson, president of Serenoa Lakes' homeowners association.

Marianne LeBar, a Realtor with Michael Saunders & Co., knows both subdivisions well because her children have friends and schoolmates there.

Her current listing in Serenoa Lakes, at 7441 Paurotis Court, is priced at $665,000.

“What iis similar about the communities is that they have large houses — three, four or five bedrooms is common — and people have everything right there at home: the giant pool, the spa and big recreation rooms,” she said. Anderson said the homes in Serenoa Lakes are somewhat larger than in Serenoa.

Both communities are gated and popular with families.

“It’s great for kids there to have a simple, fun way of life in a safe environment,” LeBar said.

Another attraction is Twin Lakes Park next door. One of Sarasota County’s busiest and most popular recreational facilities, it offers all kinds of sports activities for youngsters, including cheerleading, soccer, baseball and football.

Serenoa Lakes has an interesting homeowners' association regulation: Properties must have a minimum of seven canopy trees. Recommended for planting are live oaks, magnolias, red maples, Florida elms and pink trumpet trees.

Residents of Serenoa Lakes are welcome to join the golf club and participate in the many social events, which include picnics, karaoke, bingo, spook mobile rides on golf carts on Halloween and holiday parties for children and adults.

Although tucked away behind Twin Lakes Park, Serenoa is nonetheless conveniently located. Shopping and restaurants on Clark Road are close by, and Siesta Key’s Crescent Beach is just a 15-minute drive.
As a popular area for those in the know, Serenoa has had steady sales. In 2012, 12 homes were sold, ranging in price from $297,000 to $570,000. Seven closed with traditional mortgages. In Serenoa Lakes, sales since 2010 have ranged from $495,000 t0 $725,000.

“The conventional financing tells you it’s a working family neighborhood,” LeBar said.

Eight homes are on the market in Serenoa, starting at $439,000 and ranging as high as $725,000, with three pending sales.

In Serenoa Lakes, three houses are on the market, from $570,000 to $1.1 million.

“It’s just a big, relaxed, laid-back community,” LeBar said.

LeBar is hosting an open house at 7441 Paurotis Court from 1 to 4 p.m. Jan. 5.

Last modified: January 4, 2013
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