Florida Gulf Coast Blue Economy Pushes Forward


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, September 2nd, 2015 – If you are in the market for a coastal home in Sarasota or Manatee, it would be smart to fast-track your choice to options in older but well-established seaside communities, as it is unlikely that many new major developments directly fronting the Gulf of Mexico or Sarasota Bay will be added in the years ahead. Moves to strengthen the blue economy or the natural aquatic resources of the Florida Gulf Coast stand in the way of large seafront residential property projects in this region which extend up to Charlotte County.

Long Bar comes short

Florida Gulf Coast Blue Economy Pushes Forward

Just look at what happened to Long Bar Pointe, an ambitious undertaking to develop 523 acres between El Conquistador Parkway and the lush mangroves off Sarasota Bay in Southwest Manatee. Initial plans for this project sought for the construction of 1,086 single family homes, over 2,500 multifamily residences and a 300-berth marina.

It also called for the dredging of a new channel to allow boat navigation, a radical project that was vehemently opposed in 2013 by local residents and environmentalists who argued that it would damage the bay’s ecosystem. Mainly because of these objections, the Long Bar Pointe plan was trimmed down significantly in 2014 to the development of some 60 acres in its first phase for just 200 single family homes and some recreational facilities for future residents.

It was only in January 2015 that this project again showed signs of moving forward with county approval of its community development district to be called Aqua One. Pending definite new offerings from coastal or seafront residential projects like Long Bar Pointe, what may prove more attractive are some pre-owned Sarasota homes for sale at well-established communities such as Bay Island, Roberts Point, and Polynesian Gardens in Siesta Key.

Stringing islands for ecotourism

Besides providing some luxury home buying options, these communities stand to reap immediate benefits from current efforts to harness their nearby Florida coastal environments and aquatic resources towards a more sustainable blue economy. These initiatives are pushing forward mainly through the Gulf Coast Community Foundation (GCCF), which teamed up recently with the nonprofit Sarasota Bay Watch for the development of a string of ecotourism destinations consisting of spoil islands to be reclaimed as ecological showcases.

Starting north from the Sister Keys along the Manatee County side of Longboat Key, this proposed project will extend south to Siesta Key’s Jim Neville Marine Preserve in Sarasota. Seven islands have initially been identified for development along what is envisioned as an “Appalachian trail on the water.”

Easy island-hopping

Among these seven are Skier Islands and Edwards Islands, just a short distance east of the Roberts Point and Bay Island neighborhoods. Located south of the North Siesta Key Bridge, these islands are easily accessible from the newly renovated Bay Island Park.

Otter Key, which can be accessed from Ted Sperling Park in South Lido Key, is another island listed for ecotourism development which can have positive impact on nearby residential neighborhoods in Lido Beach and on the new condos of Park Residences. Whale Key and Sister Keys farther up the coast, east of the Longboat Key communities Sleepy Lagoon Park and Bayview Estates, are also included in this laudable trailblazing project for a more sustainable, eco-friendly use of Gulf Coast resources.