There is a burst of new development on Golden Gate Point, the upscale waterfront neighborhood of luxury condos next to the John Ringling Bridge.
The manmade peninsula, which thrusts tongue-like into Sarasota Bay, offers spectaculars views. With its central location, it has been a favorite for well-heeled retirees and professionals for decades.
When we last visited Golden Gate Point in 2011, the community had just completed extensive infrastructure and beautification improvements — putting in palm trees, streetlights, signs, metal benches and swings, redoing the sidewalks, and replacing uneven asphalt on the U-shaped interior street with brick pavement.
But following the completion of the La Bellasara and Grand Riviera condominiums, new construction was on hiatus. That changed this year. First, the Mark Sultana-designed One88, a small, attractive condo building of eight residences (two to a floor) opened. Now Aqua, an eight-story condo edifice whose units each occupy an entire floor, is scheduled to be completed in early October. An additional two projects — Allure and The Pearl — are in the pipeline.
The flurry of fresh construction also represents a change in visual approach. According to Joel Schemmel, a Realtor with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, “The newest developments are moving away from the Mediterranean style to more modern architecture.”
One88 has a distinctly modernist design. Allure’s four-story townhomes, with 4,000-plus square-foot units, will have ultra-contemporary, interlocking planes and shapes, with prices of $2.1 and $2.2 million. The Pearl is projected to have an Art Deco motif.
Aqua, which has been marketed by Schemmel and fellow Premier Sotheby’s Realtor Cheryl Loeffler since last year, was designed by local architect Guy Peterson, a modernist who just was awarded AIA Florida’s Gold Medal.
“It is his first condo building, and has unique design elements and features,” says Schemmel.
Golden Gate Point has not always been a luxury community. In the 1920s, it was called Cedar Point and marked the bayside terminus of the wooden bridge John Ringling built to connect the mainland with St. Armand’s Key. It was then that Owen Burns, an early developer of Sarasota (Burns Court is named after him), increased the land mass to 22 acres by the now-outlawed practice of dredging and filling. He also gave Golden Gate Point its name.
Until the 1990s, the peninsula was covered with small, two-story rental apartment buildings. Most have been torn down to make room for the high rises. Only Pier 550, a small complex of two-story condo buildings, remains along the waterfront. The 600-square-foot. units face east toward Marina Jack and City Island Park and have access to private boat docks and fishing piers.
Many of the interior sites still have the vintage low-rise apartment structures and duplexes, although redevelopment is starting to take hold there, with Allure the most prominent of the new, off-the-water projects.
The wide range of housing options and architectural designs give Golden Gate Point its unique flavor and charm. “It makes for an interesting, eclectic atmosphere,” says Schemmel With the addition of new buildings, the composition of condo owners seems to be evolving, too. “Historically, residents were more seasonal, but are now trending more year-round,” says Schemmel. “One of my clients, for example, is a local doctor who likes to be on the water and close to everything.”
Besides the gorgeous views, the convenient location is the obvious draw. It’s only a five-minute drive to Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Downtown is within walking distance. Lido Beach is a bike ride away.
Golden Gate Point has a voluntary association with annual dues of $20, but each building has its own amenities. Aqua, which is situated on the west side, has a community swimming pool, exercise room, and massage room, and a boat slip for each unit.
Allure’s townhomes will be more individualized. “You can have your own pool and spa on the roof,” says Schemmel.
Altogether, Golden Gate Point has around 300 living units. Real estate transactions, both new construction and resales, have been steady, indicating the ongoing interest in the neighborhood.
Over the past 12 months, there were 23 sales, ranging from $192,500 for a 728-square-foot townhome to $3,959,900 for a 3,034-square-foot penthouse at ONE88.
Currently, there are 28 active listings, from $399,000 for a 716-square-foot townhouse to $5,495,000 for the 5,658-square-foot “Grand Residence” at Aqua.
Eight properties Golden Gate Point properties are pending or active-with-contract.