Market Snapshot: The Oaks


One of Sarasota’s premier country club communities is undergoing changes in one of its subdivisions. The Oaks Clubside is about to reopen one of its two 18-hole championship two golf courses, the Heron, which has been completely redesigned by Fry/Straka, an award-winning links architecture group.

The board also is considering expanding the clubhouse facilities to include a fitness center.

“The Oaks is one of those places that have been around for a while, and when lifestyles have changed, it has evolved with them,” says Joel Schemmel, a Realtor with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty.



, fell in love with the area, and bought vast expanses of property here. Palmer Ranch bears her name.

The entire community was conceived as an elite development with million-dollar homes. The clubside portion east of the Tamiami Trail comprises about two-thirds of the area, with 360 homes situated around two golf courses.

Since 1980, when it was initially developed, The Oaks has had a number of developers. The first was Bo MacEwen, an architect and builder from Tampa, who created the clubhouse and constructed a number of mansion-style homes. MacEwen Drive, which leads into Oaks Clubside from the entrance at the Tamiami Trail and encircles the two golf courses, bears his name.

But the market failed to sustain his ambitious plan. For a while, the Arvida Corp. took over, but its stewardship met with limited success. Only when local developer Piero Rivolta bought the clubside section in 1993 — he soon added the bayside enclaves — and built out the community with his company, Tivoli Homes, did the Oaks begin to thrive.

A home for sale at 915 North MacEwen Drive in The Oaks.  STAFF PHOTO / NICK ADAMS

A home for sale at 915 North MacEwen Drive in The Oaks. STAFF PHOTO / NICK ADAMS

Rivolta created the second golf course and restored the 40,000-square-foot clubhouse, which had fallen into neglect. He held festivals, concerts and other social events to attract buyers and make The Oaks part of Sarasota’s social scene. By the time he sold his interest in the community in 2000, the club was back on firm financial footing and The Oaks had become one of the most prestigious golf and country club communities in Florida.

Today, The Oaks Clubside offers homeowners attractive views of fairways, scenic lakes and pristine nature preserves. Golf or social memberships are required, and initiation fees are part of the closing costs. In return, residents have use of 12 tennis courts, a croquet court, a swimming pool, and three restaurants. The golf courses, which used to admit outsiders, has filled all of its associate membership slots. Golf or social memberships are required for owners of homes and are part of the closing costs.

The Oaks Club in Osprey.  STAFF PHOTO / NICK ADAMS

The Oaks Club in Osprey. STAFF PHOTO / NICK ADAMS

Prospective buyers can find a variety of unique, luxury homes. Schemmel’s two current listings at The Oaks Clubside are good examples.

The one at 931 Blue Heron Overlook, priced at $1,896,400, was custom-built in 2007 and took three years to finish. The inspiration came from the Nieman Marcus Holiday House in Texas, and the owner worked with both the original designer and a Sarasota architect to adapt it to a Florida setting. The interior includes an elevator, a touch screen audio and video system with remote controls throughout the house, arched silver leaf doorways, ash beams and pecky cypress ceilings, travertine marble floors and more. The home theater won several design awards.

“You can tell when someone has taken special care to make every little detail count,” says Schemmel. “It was a labor of love.”

The other house, at 470 East MacEwen, originally built in 1998, has since been expanded to include a large guest wing comprised of three bedrooms and a dedicated kitchen. Another unusual feature is a special dog spa with a kennel area and shower, as well as an exterior dog run with lanai screening.

According to Schemmel, the population of The Oaks Clubside is a mix of retirees, working professionals and entrepreneurs, with most residents living there year-round. “A lot of families are moving in, too,” he comments. “They like the proximity to Pine View School.”

While The Oaks may have been considered “out of the way” in its early days, development has caught up and the community is now close to all kinds of amenities. Located halfway between downtown Venice and Sarasota, it has easy access to Oscar Scherer State Park, Spanish Point and the Legacy Trail. Nokomis Beach to the south is within easy driving distance, as are the YMCA at Potter Park and the Westfield Sarasota Square Mall with Costco, movie theaters and an abundance of stores.

It is no wonder then that the real estate market in The Oaks Clubside has been strong. Over the past 12 months, 15 properties have changed hands, ranging in price from $550,000 to $1,230,000.

Currently, 23 listings range from $539,000 to $2.95 million, and one sale is pending.

“Trends are up, and this community provides one of the better values for the country club lifestyle in the area,” says Schemmel.

Last modified: November 27, 2015
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