Bubil: Was Little Bokeelia Island sale a record?


PHOTO GALLERY: See more photos of Little Bokeelia Island

Mansion gawkers (guilty as charged) do get a kick out of keeping track of which property sells for the most money.

Little Bokeelia Island in Charlotte Harbor sold for $14.5 million. (PHOTO PROVIDED)

Little Bokeelia Island in Charlotte Harbor sold for $14.5 million. (PHOTO PROVIDED)

The sale last week of the 104-acre Little Bokeelia Island, with its 1920s mansion and guest cottages, for $14.5 million was reported by Michael Saunders & Co., which represented both the buyer and the seller in the deal, to be a “record residential sale for Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and Lee counties.”

This is worth a closer look, as it might be a case of “comparing apples to oranges.”

For starters, the property, at the mouth of Charlotte Harbor, is in Lee County. If Lee County is going to be included in the region for which this sale is a record, then it is interesting to include Collier County, at the base of “Southwest Florida,” as well.

Naples, Collier’s county seat, has had a dozen sales in the past few years of more than $15 million. In 2012, a Gordon Drive mansion on 4 acres sold for $47.25 million, and it is back on the market now at $68 million. In 2013, 3 vacant acres on Gordon Drive, with 198 feet of beach frontage, sold for $30 million. It was promoted as a place to build “your world-class estate.”

Also, the “Little Bo” property, while truly remarkable and drop-dead gorgeous (and accessible only by boat or helicopter), is different from your normal home sale in that it had permitting and infrastructure for the development of 29 additional lots. The buyers don’t intend to develop the lots, they said, but still that still places the island in a different category, in my view, from mansion sales on Westway Drive in Sarasota a decade ago for $13.2 million (including the small lot next door) and $13 million. It’s an outlier.

Any list of the region’s highest priced home sales also should include the sale of a newly built mansion on Bay Shore Road in Sarasota that sold for $18.84 million in 2008. Although it was recorded as a $100 “drop-and-swap” transfer of shares in an LLC, this was an arm’s-length transaction of unrelated parties in a deal brokered by real estate agents. The actual price came to light when the buyer filed a lawsuit over alleged construction defects, and the purchase contract was entered into the public record as part of the lawsuit documents.

It is interesting to note that Little Bo originally was listed at $29 million three years ago. So it sold for half off. Steep discounts — 40 percent is common — from original list price for such unique properties is, as I see it, the ultimate “first-world problem” for mansion sellers.

Regardless, it is a first-world triumph for MSC, listing agent Klaus Lang and Victoria Stultz, who represented the buyers.

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: July 18, 2015
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