Englewood Gardens, on Lemon Bay across from Manasota Key, is a unique neighborhood in Sarasota County. Although home to luxury waterfront estate mansions, the area still retains some of its “Old Florida” atmosphere from the days when it was covered with a dense forest of yellow pines. It still has a lot of wildlife — from bobcat, raccoons and gopher tortoises to all kinds of birds, including eagles soaring in the sky.
During the housing boom of the 1920s, much of the area was logged and the timber was milled in Woodmere, a small town just to the north. Saw palmetto, slash pine and palm trees have grown tall since then. By the 1960s, when the first homes were built there, Englewood Gardens was once again a lush Florida wilderness.
The community has two distinct sections, divided by Forked Creek, a navigable inlet that runs into Lemon Bay. The northern area, bounded by Keyway Road and Bridge Street to the east, is still overgrown in places and has a rural feeling, as if it were out in the country rather than on coastal upland. Many of the inland homes are set far back from the road and hidden behind the abundant foliage on either side of the roads.
The portion south of Forked Creek feels more like a subdivision, extending east as far as Bridge Street (there is no bridge), Larchmont Drive and Gladstone Boulevard. Next door are Buchan Airport and Community Park, public facilities run by Sarasota County.
Both sections are easily accessible from Englewood Road (S.R. 776) via Overbrook Road and Englewood Isles Parkway, respectively.
With much of the neighborhood zoned for estate-sized lots — 1 acre or larger — it has a sense of spaciousness. Even the Florida ranch homes dating back to the 1960s and 1970s are well separated from their neighbors. There are several two-story houses and one log cabin. In recent years, foreign investors have built new homes that they rent out during the winter.
“There is a lot of character throughout the neighborhood,” says Bonnie Price, a Realtor with Sotheby’s International Realty who has lived in Englewood Gardens for 14 years.
She and her husband came to the area from Wisconsin in 1992. After living in Prestancia and Laurel Oak, they decided they wanted to live on the water. “We kept meandering south and found this little corner of paradise,” she said.
They built their home on an acre and a third with a waterfront view and a dock 280 feet into the bay. “It’s very peaceful. There are times when we put our boat in the water, and we’re the only one in the bay,” she said. “We watch manatees and dolphins play.”
Price also likes the convenient location. “We’re two minutes from the beach and just a hop, skip and jump from Venice and all it has to offer,” she said. “If we want to go to Port Charlotte, it’s not very far either.”
Price has two listings in the neighborhood and a pending sale. The listings have exquisite views of Lemon Bay. The one at 1765 Overbrook Road has 150 feet of waterfront; it has a second lot, now with a tennis court, that could be built upon. The other, at 1265 Bayshore Drive, is three parcels with two houses and one empty lot. The bigger home has 6,700 square feet; the smaller one can be used as a guest house.
Residents are a mix of professionals and retirees, a few with families. Many live there year-round.
“Englewood Gardens is one of the last bastions of waterfront in Sarasota County that has no deed restrictions, and from a price-point standpoint, it’s unequaled,” said Robert Goldman, a Realtor with Michael Saunders & Co. “Where else can you get estate-sized lots and luxury homes for under $1 million with gorgeous waterfront views?”
The property he and his partner, Beverly Weltzien, have listed for $799,000 at 1239 Bayshore Drive is a five-bedroom house with a private dock right Lemon Bay. Although it was built in 1987, its kitchen was fully renovated last year.
“It’s ideal for a growing family,” Goldman says.
This year, six houses have sold in Englewood Gardens, from $152,000 to $325,000.
Ten homes are on the market, from $185,000 to $2.3 million.NOTEStart; and two active with contract at $270,000 and $349,000; and seven pending sales, from $270,000 to $775,900.