Market snapshot: DeSoto Lakes in Sarasota


When DeSoto Lakes was developed by the Florida Homestead Corp. in the early 1950s, it was one of the area’s biggest projects ever. The 4,500-acre tract of pristine land, dotted with oaks, palmettos and numerous lakes, straddled both Sarasota and Manatee counties, from 47th Street north to the Braden River.

The postwar boom was under way. Advertisements promised “high, dry, beautifully wooded sites among sparkling lakes.” DeSoto Lakes would be “the nearest development to all the world’s finest attractions — 10 minutes to Main Street Sarasota, 15 minutes to Lido Beach, 15 minutes to Bradenton.”

des1An 18-hole, championship golf course would be built for additional appeal.

The initial plat east of Lockwood Ridge Road between 47th Street and DeSoto Road covered 450 acres and 698 home sites. Development would occur in five stages.

Florida Homestead Corp. was determined to save as much of the natural surroundings as possible. It retained renowned Sarasota artist Syd Solomon “to coordinate the planning, building and landscaping into a harmonious and beautiful conception.”

In a letter announcing the second phase of construction, the company insisted that all homes will have “individual style” and promised, “Monotonous rows of houses, so common in ordinary ‘developments,’ are strictly forbidden at De Soto Lakes.”

The project generated tremendous public interest. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune published an eight-page insert dedicated exclusively to DeSoto Lakes on the weekend the first two sections opened.

On Sunday, Nov. 13, 1955, a long line of automobiles jammed DeSoto Road. By the end of the day, 2,081 cars and 6,243 people had toured the new development and its brand-new model homes.

One had been designed for “perfect TV living,” reputedly the first such home in the nation. The article in the Herald-Tribune insert reported, “Living, dining and kitchen area visibility of TV is assured by built-in console with swivel traverse.”

Five months later, in April 1956, the arrival of the first family to occupy its two-bedroom, two-bath home merited a photo in the paper.

The DeSoto Lakes Golf Club opened in summer 1958 with its entrance on Lockwood Ridge Road, north of DeSoto Road, but it is no longer there. Today that area comprises residential subdivisions and the shopping areas along University Parkway, and the neighborhood of DeSoto Lakes covers the same 450 acres that were developed in the 1950s.

Some of the ideas of the original developer have borne fruit. DeSoto Lakes is an attractive, mature neighborhood with plenty of trees and foliage throughout. Although most of the homes are in the “Florida ranch” style, with a smattering of two-story houses, they offer a variety of floor plans and facades: wood, stonework, stucco. The community is anything but cookie-cutter.

And with the spectacular growth along University Parkway in recent years, its location is even more convenient than before.

Sherry Fachet bought a house in DeSoto Lakes six years ago. A glass and jewelry artist (her business is called Bear Creations), she uses her garage as a studio. “I can go just about any place I want to really fast — shopping, restaurants, the beach, friends — without having to take the highway,” she says. “I can walk to Jessica’s Organic Farm Stand just across 47th Street.”

William Farrell, a Realtor with Key Realty, who has sold several homes in the area, agrees that DeSoto Lakes has a great location. “It’s one of the closest residential neighborhoods to the new UTC Mall,” he says. “I also like that a lot of properties are on larger lots, typically a quarter-acre or more,” he continues. “And it’s affordable — a great place for first time homeowners.”

As a result, DeSoto Lakes has a lot of families, whose children go to Gocio Elementary, Booker Middle and Booker High School.

“It’s a friendly neighborhood. A lot of people walk their dogs, and kids play outside,” says Farrell.

There are some retirees, but most residents are working people. The median age in DeSoto Lakes is 35, compared to 52 for all of Sarasota County. “We have a lot of deputy sheriffs, tradespeople, health-care workers and teachers,” Fachet explains.

The homeowner’s association is voluntary and informal. There are no deed restrictions or annual dues. “I like the easy-going atmosphere,” Fachet insists. “Nobody tells you that you can’t do this or that.”

DeSoto Lakes suffered its share of foreclosures and short sales during the real estate bust, but has recovered. “Many of the homes have been bought up, renovated, rented out or sold,” says Farrell.

According to Zillow, six homes are on the market, ranging in price from $135,000 to $269,000.


Last modified: December 12, 2014
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