Bubil: In middle of a three-year window


With its Atelier Talks series, the Center for Architecture Sarasota has been opening new horizons in architectural awareness.

The series visits a different design firm each month, as CFAS members and guests listen to designers discuss how clients are served and buildings are created.

Switching things up a few days ago, CFAS visited the building company Murray Homes in its midcentury modern digs at 25 S. Osprey Ave. in Sarasota (photos, page 10-I). Steve Murray noted how his company rehabilitated the building, designed in the late 1950s by Victor Lundy, inside and out. Notably, the project exposed Lundy’s original X-shaped structural steel braces.

Murray Homes works with architect Cliff Scholz on a lot of its designs, which are not the more strictly modern concepts CFAS members are used to seeing, but do blend modern and traditional influences into something pleasing to the eyes of its wealthy buyers.

Murray’s average house is 5,000 square feet, down from 6,500, and costs $350 to $500 a square foot to build, not counting the land. The emphasis is on quality, said Steve Murray, who builds mostly on the waterfront but has secured a nine-lot cul-de-sac in The Lake Club at Lakewood Ranch for an exclusive Murray-built enclave.

Business is good, he said, with all the business the firm can handle while keeping up on customer service.

In fact, Murray answered the Big Question — “What is the market going to be like next year?” — with a ringing endorsement of the local building economy. He says we are in the middle of a three-year boomlet.

“We have seen a definite increase in people buying lots and coming to see us,” said Murray. “When I look at my program for the next 12 months, we are extremely solid, and believe that the marketplace this coming season is going to be as strong as the pre-season has been.

“This develops from historical data, where the stock market is and where the economy is,” he said. “I see ’15 being really good, and ’16 relying on a couple of factors.” Prime among them: The stock market’s performance. “Is it going to come back down? That could affect our market,” Murray said.

“There is a window of opportunity that could be three years, but in my experience of the ups and the downs, you’ve got to take advantage right now. So we have an internal program of two and a half or three years taking advantage of this, and if we are lucky enough for it to extend, great.

“People see Sarasota as a good location. There is quality associated with this area. We have sensible increases in prices, which makes us a good value.

“And that is sustainable.”

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: December 13, 2014
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