Market Snapshot: Spanish Main Yacht Club


We think of condominiums as two- and three-story complexes or high-rise towers, so it may come as a surprise that the first condo community built on Longboat Key looks like a charming residential waterfront neighborhood. Developed in 1966, Spanish Main Harbor, on the northern portion of the barrier island, consists of 212 stand-alone or paired villas.

Slips are available at Spanish Main Yacht Club. Staff photo / Harold Bubil; 8-4-2015.

Slips are available at Spanish Main Yacht Club on Longboat Key. Staff photo / Harold Bubil.

A single entrance from Gulf of Mexico Drive leads to a fork whose two parallel tines, Spanish Drive North and Spanish Drive South, run along a manmade lake and a marina with direct access to Sarasota Bay, and end in a T just before the bay Originally a mangrove swamp, the 30-acre development was the vision of Roland Legueux, a builder who put up more than 3,000 homes in the Sarasota area. In the process, he also created the Sarasota Springs neighborhood east of McIntosh Avenue and north of Bee Ridge Road.

At Spanish Main, Legueux wanted to create a boating village. After digging the lake and dredging the marina channel, he and his partners put up two models and started sales in December 1966. Deeded access to Longboat Key’s beach across the street came with the package. Three years later, in 1969, Spanish Main Yacht Club became its own governing body, installing it first board of directors.

Today, Spanish Main Yacht Club is a picturesque, luxury beach cottage neighborhood, perfect for a Florida waterfront lifestyle at reasonable prices. Depending on location and interior upkeep, homes sell from less than $200,000 to about $600,000. The nine villas directly on Sarasota Bay have spectacular, panoramic views and command the highest prices.

A typical streetscape in Spanish Main Yacht Club on Longboat Key. Staff photo / Harold Bubil; 8-4-2015.

A typical streetscape in Spanish Main Yacht Club on Longboat Key. Staff photo / Harold Bubil

The two-bedroom units are all pretty much the same size — 1,300 to 1,400 square feet — but have a variety of floor plans. New owners tend to upgrade and renovate the interiors to suit their needs.

Kimberly Freiwald, an agent with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, has lived in Spanish Main Yacht Club for the past 10 years. “It’s a real neighborhood — everyone is friendly and looks out for one another,” she says.

She and her husband are avid boaters and take their 24-foot Hurricane out on the bay and into the Gulf of Mexico four to five times a week. “It’s moored 15 feet behind our back door,” she explains. “The marina channel accommodates up to 45-foot vessels. It’s deep water — good for sailboats, too.”

The marina has 40 slips. “It’s one of the nicest on Longboat Key, well take care of, with water and electric at each dock,” says Freiwald.

Although Spanish Main Yacht Club is a 55-and-older community, the age limit is only 50 in as many as 21 units. Owners younger 50 can stay there for up to 60 days a year. “Some people buy a unit for their retirement and use it as an investment — for renting out — or as a vacation place in the meantime,” says Freiwald.

Residents are a mix of Europeans, Canadians and Midwesterners. Most of them are retirees with about 10 percent working professionals. “For some snowbirds, it’s their third, fourth or fifth home,” says Freiwald. “But many say it’s their favorite.”

Spanish Main Yacht Club is a very social place with lots of activities and interest groups that meet at the clubhouse. “Any excuse to have a party — holidays, the Kentucky Derby, welcoming snowbirds back,” Freiwald says with a smile.

For active retirees, the Longboat Key Club offers golf and other amenities. Next door, the Cedars Tennis Resort has a large swimming pool, a fitness center, a tiki hut and 10 tennis courts. Anyone can join, and a good number of Spanish Main residents have.

The association fee of $580 a month is low compared to many other condominiums. It covers lawn care, flood insurance for interior and exterior units, wind insurance for the exterior, basic cable, drinking water and lawn irrigation, and maintenance of the seawalls that run along the waterfront.

“It’s a well-managed community,” Freiwald insists. “Our association is very proactive in keeping things in good shape; we have a great board of directors.”

She adds, “A few years back, they put in three wells, which irrigate the lawns, saving about $4,000 a month — a really good move.”

Sales in Spanish Main Yacht Club have been strong over the past few years, typically 15 to 20 units annually. Last year, the 18 sold units ranged in price from $175,000 to $599,000. Currently inventory is low, however. There are only three units on the market, from $239,000 to $569,000.

Two of them are Freiwald’s listings, and she expects to have three or four to come online in the next weeks. “There is such interest that I have put two under contract that never made in into the MLS listings,” she says.

“If someone wants to live in a condo-type community but not in a building, this is like having a family residence without all the associated costs,” she continues. “Baby boomers love it!”

Last modified: August 7, 2015
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