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Doug Parks' Blog

By Doug Parks | Agent in Sarasota, FL

Sarasota Neighborhood - Lighthouse Point and Regent Court on Longboat Key

The Sarasota Herald Tribune recently posted an article on the history of the exclusive location of Lighthouse Point and Regent Court, behind the gates of the Longboat Key Club. They also offered a collection of photos on some of the properties, including one that is currently on the market. 80 Lighthouse Point is offered at $8,900,000 at just under 7,000 sq ft.

In the last 24 months, there has only been one sale through the MLS. On January 3, 2011, 75 Lighthouse Point sold for $3,550,000. Located on the Lagoon, this home features over 5,600 sq ft with 4 bedrooms and 4.5 baths.

View Map of Lighthouse Point

No one seems to know how Lighthouse Point, on the southern tip of Longboat Key, got its name. While it certainly would make an excellent spot for a maritime beacon, there never has been such a landmark, or plans for one, at that location.

The area was prime real estate long before Arvida Corp. developed the Longboat Key Club just to the north, starting in the early 1960s. During the Roaring Twenties' real estate boom, John Ringling conceived of the idea to build a five-story, 200-room luxury hotel just across the lagoon to attract wealthy tourists to the keys. It was to be called the Ritz-Carlton. Reportedly, he paid $5,000 a year for the right to use the name.

As construction began on March 15, 1926, no one dreamed that the real estate boom was about to go bust. But by November, when the first of the hotel's three sections was nearly complete, Ringling gave the order to stop work. By then, as much as $650,000 had been invested in the project, with Ringling putting up $400,000 of his own money.

Despite occasional reports that the hotel would be completed, the unfinished structure stood for nearly 40 years, attracting curious sightseers and teenagers who apparently cherished the nighttime romantic atmosphere. Tragedy occurred when several youngsters fell to their deaths in an unguarded elevator shaft.

After Arvida bought the property in 1959, it demolished the old hotel. After nearly 40 years, the concrete and brick walls were rock solid, and the initial wrecking ball hardly made a dent. But it finally all came down in 1964.

Today, Lighthouse Point and Regent Court, the latter a bit farther north along the beach, represent two residential enclaves of waterfront, million-dollar houses. Both neighborhoods are accessible only through the gates of the Longboat Key Club.

Managers of a Dutch pension fund were constructing the Beaches condominium complex at the time. (According to a real estate agent involved with some of the first transactions shared,) "Originally, there were supposed to be four buildings, but when they had financial problems, only one was built and they decided to sell the remaining properties to Bill Boyer," she says. "And that's how single-family homes came to the beach at Regent Court."

Boyer, who also developed Harbor Oaks, Harbor Court and Corey's Landing on Longboat Key, built a spec home on the northernmost parcel, right next to the Privateer condominiums. The other eight lots were sold individually. Congressman Vern Buchanan has his home there.

Although the community has no houses on the market right now, last year there were two sales, including one for $12.5 million, the highest amount paid for a single-family home in Longboat Key history and the third-highest sales price ever in Sarasota County.

Lighthouse Point, now a gated community next to Sand Point Condominiums, was developed a decade later by Bill Rein, who also built Tangerine Bay on Longboat and the Tessera condo tower in downtown Sarasota. Again, after the construction of an initial spec home, the remaining parcels were sold and the owners built custom homes.

As a result the houses in the neighborhood represent a variety of architectural styles, including modernist, Mediterranean and Key West. Of the 16 homes in Lighthouse Point, nine are located along New Pass, with magnificent views of the turquoise waterway. The other seven lie on the south shore of a small lagoon, which allows them to have deep-water boat docks.

One home is for sale in Lighthouse Point, listed at $8.9 million, although another just went off-market and will probably be back with the coming season.

Although opportunities to buy homes don't come along often, both Lighthouse Point and Regent Court are highly sought-after enclaves. Residents enjoy the privacy of the Longboat Key Club Resort, and all of its amenities — golf, tennis and restaurants — if they choose to join.

Doug Parks
Michael Saunders & Company

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