Letter From Home: The $3.9 million choice


Here is the decision for the wealthy northerner looking for a luxury second-home condo in Florida: Spend $4 million for a 46-year-old, 1,600-square-foot 2/2 overlooking Ocean Drive and the Atlantic Ocean at the foot of Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, or $3.87 million for a brand-new, 4,500-square-foot condo overlooking the Gulf of Mexico on Siesta Key. And with no road separating it from the water, but no beach, either.

Architect Mark Sultana's rendering of Oceane, a 6-unit luxury condominium in development on Siesta Key. Courtesy rendering.

Architect Mark Sultana's rendering of Oceane, a 6-unit luxury condominium in development on Siesta Key. Courtesy rendering.

That is the scenario as a long-vacant condo pad of just less than an acre, with 347 feet of seawall, at 4740 Ocean Blvd. north of Siesta Village, will become Oceane condominium.

As much as Sarasota is being hailed in media across the country as a place to be, it remains a relative bargain for luxury buyers who also are looking at Naples, Palm Beach and Miami. While Palm Beach retains its golden aura, the wealthy from somewhere else aren’t beholden to one coast or one city. They are looking for new product, competitively priced, with the lifestyle they want. Everything else comes second.

On Siesta Key, Crossgate Partners is betting that it can find just six buyers who will spend that kind of dough on a resort-style vacation home. After all, it found 11 buyers (only one from Florida) at Infinity, its recently completed condo on Longboat Key.

Crossgate Partners’ managing partner, Randy Moore, is developing the project on land that it has under contract. The closing is soon, he said, and construction will start when about half of the six Oceane units are under contract. The contractor has not been selected.

“The people who can afford it appreciate having more than one place they can call home throughout the year,” said Moore, of Atlanta. “Without sacrificing size or security or luxury, they can have a condominium that is in many ways equivalent to a single-family home on Siesta Key.” Each unit has a private elevator.

As at Infinity, Crossgate has hired architect Mark Sultana of DSDG Inc. to design Oceane, with interior design by April White. It will have Sultana’s “coastal contemporary” signature.

“Mark brings in his coastal-contemporary look,” Moore said. “We are cautious not to go too modern or too contemporary. We balance it with the nice soft white stucco finish, and the wood on the outside of the building. A lot of glass — 10-foot floor-to-ceiling glass, with sliders that open to 20 feet in width.

“The angle to the gulf and landscaping offers a pure resort-style experience” to the pool area, which has six cabanas in a pavilion-like building that is reminiscent of Paul Rudolph’s Umbrella House with its cantilevered shading structure.

Views to the north are up the coastline. “You are not looking out into a blank ocean,” said Realtor Peter Laughlin, who is marketing the project for Premier Sotheby’s International Realty. “You are looking all the way up Lido and Longboat Key.”

“We like the timing” of the project, Moore said. “On Siesta Key, there really isn’t any other product available in the marketplace. We have location, proximity to Siesta Village and the type of product that is a great fit for empty-nesters who have beautiful homes or lots they have been sitting on, and now they have the opportunity to sell out of them and transition into something that is less maintenance and allow them to travel a little more.”

Said Laughlin, “When you look at what condos have been selling for per square foot on Siesta Key, all condos are selling at $895 per square foot and above, but this is for old product. That is an essential thing because our price range is pretty good for the quality and location.

“The highest selling prices for houses has been on Siesta Key. This is a key that is in great demand. There is a demand that has not been able to be met because they (buyers) can’t find the product.”

Moore, noting that he is from California, said of the Sarasota market in general and Oceane in particular, “This is cheap, particularly for what you get here.”

Crossgate is buying the property from seller Jefferson Development Group of Louisville, Kentucky, which bought for $2.7 million in 2013. Laughlin and Moore would not disclose the selling price of the $5.8 million listing.

A Mediterranean revival-style building called Oceana had been planned for the site, but the project fell through. Sultana’s structure will be a big improvement, architecturally.

Letters from our readers

My recent Letter From Home about the state’s architects preparing for 3 feet of sea-level rise brought this response from a wetlands and soil scientist:

“Good morning: I think you have understated the amount of sea level rise, and that could be disastrous for many new and existing home buyers. ... If we are in an abrupt period of change, as many scientists suggest and as my eyes tell me, plan for much more than just 3 feet.

“In fact, I believe along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, the federal government is now planning on 6 feet. Personally, if I were buying in Florida today, I’d plan for 25 to 30 feet, but I have heard other scientists go as high as 70 feet based on a 5- to 7-year doubling time for the melt rate.

“Scientists and their models have consistently understated both the timing and scale of warming and its impacts. It is important for you and your readers to incorporate that fact in your decision-making process.”

—Jackie Heinl, Sharon, Pennsylvania

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 24, 2016
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