One of the area’s best-kept secrets, The Uplands is an unusual neighborhood for a number of reasons. Its name derives from the fact that, at 14 feet above sea level, it occupies some of the highest bayfront land in the area. Farther inland, the ground rises to 26 feet.
Straddling the Sarasota-Manatee county line (with a Sarasota ZIP code), it is hidden away, sandwiched between the campuses of New College and the University of South Florida.
Edwards Drive, the nondescript access point from the North Tamiami Trail, is easy to miss. Named after A.B. Edwards, an early mayor of Sarasota who grew up in the area, the road has six side streets branching off to the north. Parkview Drive marks the southern boundary of the community.
“When people find The Uplands, they kind of flip out,” says David Jennings, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker. “It’s not a subdivision you come across by accident.”
He has sold a dozen or so homes there over the past 15 years, more than any other Realtor, and appreciates its quiet, rustic atmosphere.
“The people who live there love it,” he says. “It’s as far out from town as you can get while still being in town.”
Being tucked away, the neighborhood has retained its “old Florida” ambience, with lush vegetation and mature palms, pines, oaks trees, and Norfolk pines providing natural beauty throughout. A scenic, spring-fed pond, affectionately called “Lake Uplands” by the locals, lies in the northern section of the neighborhood, attracting bird life.
There is also a strip of parkland between Uplands Boulevard, which runs north and south, and the bay. It originally belonged to the Uplands Neighborhood Association, but is now jointly owned by the State of Florida and New College, which is committed to keeping the green space as natural an environment as possible.
The Uplands is one of the area’s few waterfront neighborhoods where teardowns haven’t replaced existing homes with mansions. Most of the houses date back to the late 1940s and early 1950s, when the neighborhood was developed. Even those built in the mid-1970s are mostly cottages and Florida ranches, and only a handful of residences have second stories.
Jennings’ listing at 441 Parkview Drive, for example, is a three-bedroom, three-bath ranch home built in 1954, with the original brick fireplace. Open Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m., it has been extensively remodeled, with new electric and plumbing, impact-resistant windows and doors, and oak flooring throughout. The heated pool and hot tub are surrounded by a large patio and a recently built outdoor room, bar and grill.
The area was platted in the 1890s and developed in the late 1940s by two couples who made The Uplands their home — Virginia and August Thierry, and Jeanette and Paul Thielen. Also involved was Herbert Braren, a local developer later responsible for thousands of houses and non-residential buildings on the West Coast, including the Frank G. Berlin YMCA. He lived in the neighborhood, on Poinciana Drive, from 1950 until his death in 2012 at 101.
Today, residents of The Uplands are a mix of longtime Sarasotans, families with children and a smattering of college-student rentals. The district schools are Bay Haven Elementary, Booker Middle and Booker High.
The HOA used to be part of Indian Beach/Sapphire Shores to the south of the Ringling Estate, but spun off a decade ago. Dues are minimal and voluntary. The lake in the neighborhood is a special case. The residents of the seven encircling properties own it and contribute to an annual fund for its upkeep.
Residents love the tranquility, natural beauty and convenient location. The Sarasota-Bradenton Airport is just across the street. The Historic Asolo Theater, Asolo Repertory Company and Sarasota Ballet are within easy walking distance down Bayshore Road. Downtown Sarasota is a just a 5-minute drive, and St. Armand’s and Lido Beach not much further away.
Over the past year, there have been four sales, ranging in price from $175,000 to $299,000. Two homes on the market, at $225,000 and $599,000, and one is active with contract. An empty lot at the corner of Edwards Drive and Uplands Boulevard is listed at $285,000.