Manatee, Sarasota Vie for New Communities


There’s some thinking in the Southwest Florida real estate circle that Manatee looms as the region’s epicenter of the market for new homes as more land is becoming more available for residential development in the county than its neighbor Sarasota. The recent spate of proposed and approved homebuilding projects announced in Bradenton, Palmetto, and Parrish indeed supports this viewpoint. However, Sarasota Bay Real Estate notes that what may actually be developing is a dynamic growth that encompasses both counties.

The planned expansions of available residential sites in Manatee, the full service realty company observes, are being echoed by similar moves in Sarasota. Just March 2014, for instance, the Sarasota County Commissioners expressed unanimous support on a proposal to allow developers planning to build communities on smaller land parcels in east Sarasota. Under this move, which will amend Sarasota’s land use plan up to year 2050, the developers can also include lakes and stormwater ponds in the county’s open space requirement for residential projects.

New areas opening up

Manatee, Sarasota Vie for New Communities

New neighborhoods are also poised to emerge in South Sarasota where Neal Communities, one of the prime movers of residential developments in Manatee, was reported shifting its focus. Already, this Lakewood Ranch-based developer has three proposed developments in the pipeline for the city of Venice.

One of these is the Windwood on Pinebrook Road which has been presented to the city council for consideration. Neal Communities expects to submit next to the city’s planning commission its plan for the Villages of Milano which flanks the recently built Jacaranda Blvd. extension. The developer is also courting residents’ support on rezoning of an annexed rural area for its proposed The Woods of Venice at the northwest junction of Jackson and Border Road.

Some early choices

Manatee, Sarasota Vie for New Communities

As these plans percolate, Neal Communities continues to build homes at Grand Palm on Center Road and River Road. Currently, the MLS lists 10 available properties in this community at asking prices ranging from the high $100s up to near the $400s mark. These homes have floor plans of between 1,000-plus square feet and 2,200 square feet with two- to three-bedroom designs.

So far, this is the only subdivision opened under the Sarasota 2050 development plan. The recent county moves to amend this roadmap and ease some of its restrictions should provide further impetus for Neal and its peers to push forward their plans in Sarasota.

Encouraging price gains

The sustained gains in home prices and relatively low market inventory in Sarasota and Manatee should also be strong incentives for these builders. In February of 2014, the median prices of single family homes in Sarasota-Manatee rose to $200,000, up by 12.2 percent on a year-over-year comparison. A 3.5 percent gain was also posted in closed sales, with ownership of 937 homes changing hands in February.

Notably, the price gains of single family homes sold in the two counties outpaced the state level which rose 10% to $165,000 in February 2014. For the same month, the median price of condos and townhouses in Manatee and Sarasota advanced by 15.2 percent to $163,875. State-wide, the median price for condos gained an identical 15.2% to $132,500.