Market Snapshot: Siesta Isles



Although Siesta Isles has no direct beach access, it is one of the most appealing waterfront, boating communities on the key whose name it bears. It has nearly four miles of curving waterways, with two islands in their midst, accessible by bridges, that were created from 1959 to 1962. The deep-water canals accommodate motor boats up to 35 feet. It takes about 15 minutes to get to Sarasota Bay via the Grand Canal, which winds through the barrier island.

Siesta Isles from the Contento Drive bridge. Staff photo / Harold

Siesta Isles from the Contento Drive bridge. Staff photo / Harold

The sand and soil generated by the dredging were added to the surrounding land, raising the properties higher above water level than normal. As a result, Siesta Isles experiences less flooding than other neighborhoods on the key.

There are two main entrances. The one on Midnight Pass Road is a divided lane with attractive, lush Florida landscaping. The other, from Beach Road, across from Siesta Public Beach, opens onto the main neighborhood thoroughfare, a ring road open at the northern end, which surrounds the two islands. The eastern and western prongs, Shadow Lawn Drive and Cape Leyte Drive, have a number of short cul de sac streets branching off toward the interior.

Two thirds of the 298 residences are directly on the canals. Many are single-story Florida ranch and beach cottage houses dating to the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. Some are constructed with Ocala block, a mid-century concrete building material that came in varying sizes and colors. There are also three Sarasota School of architecture homes, one with Ocala block.

This house in Siesta Isles echoes the design of the 1960s (since demolished) Pagoda House on Bird Key. Staff photo / Harold Bubil

This house in Siesta Isles echoes the design of the 1960s (since demolished) Pagoda House on Bird Key. Staff photo / Harold Bubil

One of the others, at 5273 Cape Leyte Drive, is listed as “active with contract” by Judie Berger, an agent with Premier Sotheby's International Realty. “The buyer has plans to renovate it, which would be great,” she says.

Indeed, many of the original houses in Siesta Isles have been extensively renovated on the inside. In recent years, there have been some tear-downs, making way for million-dollar luxury homes, but the sense of openness remains because lots in the neighborhood cannot be divided.

That provision, and the combination of irregular lot sizes — only a few are rectangular — curving streets, winding canals, and abundant palm trees and shrubbery offer varied views and have resulted in a quiet, scenic community with a distinct “old Florida” feel and atmosphere.

Berger has lived in Siesta Isles for nearly 20 years and loves it there. When she came to the area from New Jersey, she chose the subdivision for its friendly atmosphere. “It was the closest I could find with a sense of a northern neighborhood I was used to,” she recalls.

The home she bought, one of the Sarasota School of architecture residences, was built in the 1960s by Ruth Richmond, the first woman in Florida to hold a grade “A” general contractor’s license. Richmond helped popularize some of the features that became standard in many Sunshine State ranch homes after World War II — screened lanais, Formica kitchen counters and sliding-glass doors that disappeared from view.

When Berger wanted to downsize after her two grown children left home, she was torn about leaving Siesta Isles. “I thought long and hard about it,” she admitted. But eventually, she opted to stay, buying a smaller cottage within the neighborhood.

Berger loves the sense of community above all else. “Neighbors keep their homes up, and there is an evening volunteer security watch,” she says. She also attends the monthly get-togethers where residents gather in different people’s homes for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. “It’s been going on for 40 years, and we usually get 30 to 40 people; sometimes as many as 60.”

Some Europeans live in the neighborhood. Most residents live in Siesta Isles year-around and include retirees, empty-nesters and working professionals — doctors, members of the legal profession, business owners and retired corporate executives, among them, Dr. Kumar Mahadevan, president emeritus of Mote Marine Laboratories.

“It’s the kind of place where people don’t feel they have to show off what they have and choose to live in a low-key, easy-going manner, enjoying their retirement,” says Berger. At the same time, the community is getting younger. “There is trick or treating at Halloween now. That wasn’t the case when my children grew up here,” she explains.

While Siesta Isles has a quiet, quaint quality that its residents appreciate, it is also close to the surrounding amenities. The white sand beaches, Siesta Village and Out of Door Academy are within walking and biking distance.

Glebe Park, with its sports facilities and activities, abuts the northeastern corner of the community.

No wonder the market has been consistently active. Over the past 12 months, 10 sales have ranged in price from $400,534 to $1.6 million.

Currently, 11 homes are on the market, listed from $465,000 to $1.6 million; two are active with contract.

Last modified: May 8, 2015
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