Market snapshot: Laurel Lakes in Sarasota


 PHOTO GALLERY: Laurel Lakes

When Laurel Lakes, an upscale neighborhood east of Interstate 75, was developed in the late 1990s, it was called Barton Farms, because it was originally pasture land. Its two gated entrances are located on Palmer Boulevard and Iona Road, which also mark the eastern and northern boundaries. To the south and west, the community abuts The Hammocks and Laurel Oaks Country Club, respectively.

pasture1Laurel Lakes got its new name, after local developer Rex Horton bought it and started to put in the infrastructure. Then in 2000, Lennar Homes, a Miami-based builder of communities nationwide, purchased the lots and created a number of models.

At the time, Laurel Lakes was considered far away from anywhere.

J.B. Hamilton Queen and her husband, Hugh, were early “pioneers.” When they bought one of the six model homes on site in 2001, only 14 residences had been built.

“We loved it because we had deer running in our backyard — still do — and osprey fished in the lakes,” Hamilton Queen remembers. “It still feels like we’re in the country. It’s quiet and peaceful.”

She continues, “We get a lot of wildlife on the lakes — herons, egrets, white pelicans, parrots and even sea gulls after the fish eggs hatch in mid-February, early March. There’s also great fishing — largemouth bass, tilapia and catfish.”

The largest of the deep, elongated lakes in the community was part of the original pasture land. Spring fed, it provides water for the other five, man-made lagoons. Most of the 321 homes back onto one of the lakes. The few that don’t are separated from their neighbors by lush greenery.

pasture2When Lennar bought U.S. Home, it started to offer models from its new acquisition as well. As a result, there are a variety of homes in Laurel Lakes, ranging in size from 1,900 to more than 3,000 square feet — 3- and 4-bedroom domiciles priced in the middle to high $300,000s and $400,000s. The prevailing architectural styles are Florida contemporary with a hint of Mediterranean. Each residence has either slate or barrel tile roofs. A number of homes have 12-foot vaulted ceilings.

“I like the fact that you don’t get the feeling of a cookie-cutter neighborhood,” says Jill Johns, a Realtor with Re/Max Alliance Group. Johns was on the original Lennar sales team. “I left and came back in 2004. Things were busy. It was a crazy time,” she remembers.

Since then, she and her husband, Larry, have been doing resales in Laurel Lakes. “I’ve sold a lot of homes there, some of them several times,” she says. Currently, they have two listings, at 2863 Grazeland Drive and 2499 Farms Court.

She recalls the growing pains of rapid development. “There were some difficulties” when infrastructure was not installed quickly enough, she added, and “some homes bought in 2004 were not delivered until 2006.”

But that seems like a long-forgotten glitch. Lennar is in the process finishing out the final empty section in neighborhood, located in the southwest corner next to Laurel Oaks Country Club. The builder is putting up a model and offering several ground plans for the 31 residences. “Right now you have to contact them to purchase, or use a Realtor. Once it is finished, it will sell out quickly,” she predicts.

Residents are a mix of professionals, retirees, snowbirds and families — the district schools are Tatum Ridge Elementary, McIntosh Middle and Sarasota High School. “I know my neighbors and they’re all great people and very helpful,” says Hamilton Queen.

Laurel Lakes has a number of amenities. Many residents take advantage of the community clubhouse, fitness center, heated swimming pool and tennis courts. Others go kayaking in the largest of the lakes.

Homeowners’ association fees are $1,117 per year and include reclaimed water for lawn irrigation. There are no community district development (CDD) fees.

Although Laurel Lakes is still one the outskirts of town, recent development has caught up to it. Rothenbach Park and its hiking and biking trails are a half-mile away at the intersection of Iona and Bee Ridge Road. The new Publix and small strip mall across the street there are virtually part of the neighborhood, and a number of golf courses are just around the corner.

While the widening of Bee Ridge Road can be a traffic nuisance, Palmer Boulevard to Fruitville Road is a good alternative for getting quickly to Interstate 75 and downtown. Once it construction is complete, there will be easy access to Doctors Hospital and the shopping, banking and dining opportunities along Cattlemen Road.

“People like it here because it isn’t in the midst of the hubbub, and you can still be everywhere within 15 to 20 minutes,” says Johns. According to Zillow, 12 properties are on the market, ranging in price from $330,000 to $556,900.

Last modified: February 13, 2015
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