Market snapshot: Point Crisp/Siesta Key



Point Crisp on Siesta Key may only be a tiny sandbar sticking tongue-like into Little Sarasota Bay, but it is rich in physical beauty and history.


The exclusive neighborhood of waterfront luxury homes is a veritable tropical paradise. A nondescript, single lane from Midnight Pass Road opens up into wooded foliage worthy of Selby Gardens. The landscape is dotted with all kinds of palm trees — royal, queen, cocoanut, cabbage, Washingtonia and more — as well as magnificent live oaks, laurel oaks and banyan trees, amid lush shrubbery.

11Located about a mile south of Stickney Point Road, the community consists of only 14 homes and 16 properties. Most of the houses are from 6,000 to 6,500 square feet in size and include Mediterranean-style mansions, Sarasota School of architecture-inspired, modernist houses and plantation-style residences with columned front facades.

“People drive by the small sign at the entrance and have no idea what’s down the lane,” says Ken Bachman, who has lived in Point Crisp since 1997. “Their eyes get very big when they get in here and see beautiful homes that have wonderful views of the bay.”

The general area surrounding Point Crisp was claimed in 1900 as a 144-acre parcel by William and Henrietta Hodges, pursuant to the Homestead Act of 1862. The deed was signed by President William McKinley.

The peninsula is named after Thomas Crisp, an early developer of downtown Sarasota. The Crisp Building on Main Street, across from Hollywood 20 Cinemas, is one of his significant efforts. Constructed in 1926, it is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Rumor has it that Crisp won the property on Siesta Key in a poker game. Whatever the case, it became his last development. He platted six lots in 1949 and eight more in 1953. He also built one of the first houses there for himself and his third wife, Betty, who died when the house caught fire and she ran back inside to rescue her pet bird. Crisp was badly burned but survived, remarried and lived six more years. He died in 1966.

Not all the lore surrounding Point Crisp is tinged with tragedy. One of the two original homes still standing, a beach cottage dating to 1953, belonged to John D. MacDonald, the renowned author. Many famous literary friends came to visit; he once played chess with Ernest Hemingway in his parlor. But it was in the second-floor workroom he used as his study that MacDonald created Travis McGee, the quintessential Florida beach bum and hard-boiled sleuth, who figured in 21 of his mystery novels.

The property is listed by Deborah Beacham of Michael Saunders & Co. for $2.995 million. Unfortunately, despite its historical significance, it likely will become a teardown to make room for a bigger residence.

The process of replacing the original homes with estate-sized mansions began in 1994, when Bachman and his wife, Claudia, who owned Eager Beaver car washes in Sarasota, Bradenton, Venice and Fort Myers, moved to Point Crisp.

They love it. “There is virtually no traffic. It’s one of the most private, serene, quiet places I know,” he says.

The Bachmans are big fans of modern architecture. At 8,000 square feet under air, their house, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright disciple Thomas Bertram, is the biggest on Point Crisp. The interior is a symphony of airy, open spaces and large windows, offering spectacular panoramas of the Intracoastal Waterway.

From their roof it’s possible to see Fourth of July fireworks in Venice, on Siesta Key and in downtown Sarasota. “It’s a fireworks extravaganza,” says Bachman, smiling.

He points out the verdant mangrove island in front of the property, a sanctuary for birds, and a protected dock and kayak launch. “It’s a wonderful rookery,” he comments. “We see osprey, herons, egrets and pelicans, and once in a while, there’s a raccoon swimming to the island.”

According to Bachman, residents are a congenial group of retirees, families and active professionals, including the owner of Davidson’s Drugs and an ophthalmologist at the Center for Sight.

The homeowners association, which was set up in 1958, is loose and informal. “We basically have no rules and collect no dues,” Bachman explains. “Every once in a while, there is a request for funds. Last year we had to put up $150 each because we did some maintenance on the road and extra landscaping.”

When their next-door neighbors put their house at 1320 Point Crisp Road on the market, the Bachmans decided to buy it in order to protect their views. They expanded it to nearly 5,000 square feet by adding a second story and finished the renovation in 2007, just as the real estate market crashed. The house was designed by former Sarasota architect James Bowen; Carl Abbott handled the renovation.

Since then, they have rented the house, but recently they redid the interior from scratch, installing new plumbing, electricity and hurricane windows. Like their own home, it is a contemporary, modern design. The asking price is $3 million. “It has lots of glass and interesting private areas,” says Bachman. “It’s unique.”

His listing agent, Saunders’ Stephanie Church, agrees. “It sits on a large lot with a generous backyard. You don’t find that on a lot of waterfront properties,” she said.

Last modified: April 17, 2015
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