estate sales still on the rise
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
News stories about a national slowdown in the real estate
market have yet to reach Anna Maria Island.
According to the latest monthly Property Sales Report
from Barry and Dantia Gould, of Island Vacation Properties,
inventory of active listings is way up over last year
at this time with 328 properties currently on the market
on Anna Maria Island versus 200 a year ago.
While September 2004 sales on the Island were down in
all categories, a victim of hurricanes Frances, Ivan and
Jeanne, sales were up in all categories this September.
The average price for the 14 single-family residences
sold this September was $791,059., versus $539,752. in
September 2004. Total dollar value of homes sold this
September was $11.5 million, more than double the $5.4
million in sales last September and way above the $7.1
million sales figure for September 2003.
The average sales price for the nine condos sold this
year was $562,400 compared to $343,000 in September 2004.
The total value of condominium sales in September 2005
was $4.9 million, more than double the $2.3 million in
condo sales reported in September 2004.
The average sale price for the three duplexes sold this
September was $665,667 versus an average of $591,000 for
the six duplexes sold in September of last year.
There were no commercial sales in September '05 or in
Third Quarter '05 Sales Up
The average price of the 51 single family residences
sold on Anna Maria Island in third quarter 2005 was $810,993
compared to $627,983 for the 58 single family residences
sold in third quarter 2004.
The average price of the 45 condominiums sold in third
quarter 2005 was $696,672. versus $385,639 for the 28
condos sold in third quarter 2004.
The average price of the 18 duplexes sold in third quarter
2005 of $680,161 was not as large an increase as single-family
residences and condos. The 2004 third-quarter average
price for a duplex was $632,273.
One lot was sold in third quarter 2005 for $429,900. In
the year earlier third quarter, three lots changed hands
with the average sale price $390,000.
Both third quarter '05 and third quarter '04 saw three
commercial sales, with the average price this year at
$1,661,667 compared with an average of $746,667 last year.
This year's average was much higher because it included
the sale of the Siam Garden Resort, 512 Spring Ave., Anna
Maria, for $4,120,000.
Bistro: 20 years of excellence
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH It
was a dark and stormy night.
Hurricane Juan was pounding the Island with wind and rain.
It was Oct. 31, 1985, and Sean Murphy and his wife, Susan
Timmins, planned to open the Beach Bistro on Nov. 1.
"We had borrowed all the money we could and spent
it to get the restaurant open," Murphy recalled.
"Then we got hammered by Hurricane Juan. Waves were
beating against the windows. We had a wet vac to suck
up the water as it came in through the cracks. We did
that for 48 hours, and at 2 a.m., it stopped.
Murphy said the roads were so flooded that they couldnt
get home and stayed the night with Dr. Steve and Sheleigh
Pelham, who had helped them battle the storm.
"Everyone said to wait another day to open, but we
had to open because we were $800 overdrawn," Murphy
explained. "We served 42 people and brought in $848."
Now, its 20 years later and circumstances have changed
a bit. The Beach Bistro is one of the most acclaimed restaurants
in Florida and the recipient of eight Golden Spoon awards.
It has won national recognition through the esteemed Zagat
"The first 10 years were pretty tough," Murphy
acknowledged. "Then Sally Fine did a review in the
Sarasota Herald Tribune and called us a culinary
wonderland, and business picked up."
Another great review in the St. Petersburg Times brought
regional recognition. Then came the first Golden Spoon
award, which brought state recognition.
"In 1996, Zagat put us in their book and said we
had the best food on the Gulf Coast and that it was as
good as any restaurant in New York or Paris,"
National recognition followed, as did articles in Southern
Living, Coastal Living, the New York Times and a newspaper
in London, England. The Boston Herald has scheduled an
interview, as has Sante, which Murphy described as a serious
food and beverage magazine.
The menu has evolved through the years and Murphy noted,
"The dishes have become more original, complex and
sophisticated. Weve gone from pretty damn good to
as good as it gets."
Murphy praised his staff including Annette Walden, who
"has been on the floor for most of the last 20 years,"
chefs Pete Arpke, 15 years, and Mac deCarle, eight years,
and Bobby Valentine, who "has been covering wine
for eight years."
Future plans include renovating the small bar and introducing
a new menu.
"We want to bring the small bar experience back to
the Island," he said, "and were introducing
a new menu format for Nov. 1. It will focus on smaller
plates and smaller portions. We also will keep the classics
from the current menu."
Other plans include operating a banquet house with Allen
Zirkelback at the Riverhouse, formerly TKO OShays,
Through the years, Murphy has lent his hand to numerous
charities, on and off the Island.
"We did a fundraiser for All Childrens Hospital
for many years, but it became too much for us and we had
to lighten up. Now, the Manatee Wine Fest for the United
Way is our big one. It will be held Nov. 12 at the Riverhouse."
Murphy also provides spaghetti dinners each year for the
Little League, soccer and basketball teams at the Anna
Maria Island Community Center.
However, it is not the restaurant that Murphy is most
proud of it is his children, Alexandra, 18, and
Ben, 14. Alex is a freshman studying liberal arts at Emory
s Oxford campus outside of Atlanta, and Ben is a
freshman at Manatee High School and an avid hockey player.
In September, his team won the Eastern U. S. Silver Sticks
old-time fish fry at Mar Vista
By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
LONGBOAT KEY Even a hurricane didnt deter
the oldtimers invited to the Longboat Key Historical Societys
Old Time Fish Fry on Friday night.
The gathering in recognition of the town of Longboat Keys
50th anniversary drew a crowd at the Mar Vista Pub with
one thing in common island roots dating back to
the the 1950s and earlier.
Memories rushed back as old friends recognized each other.
Allis Ferguson Edelman, of Sarasota, recalled having to
pull down blackout shades at dusk every night not
for sea turtles, but in case German submarines were watching
the island during World War II.
There were so few people on the island at the time that
fighter pilots from the Sarasota Army Air Base, now Sarasota/Bradenton
International Airport, used the island for target practice,
Sometimes kids would find live shells at the target range
where the Holiday Inn later stood and keep
them as souvenirs, said Sarasota resident Nancye Williams
Snyder, whose father, David Williams, ran the Longboat
Key post office in the village.
Despite the dangers of the war, it was an idyllic place
to grow up, she said, adding, "I wish every child
could have been brought up on Longboat Key."
Living on the island in the 1950s gave Donna Carr Davis,
of Inverness and Rome, N.Y., a "penchant for contemplation,"
she said, because there were so few homes there at the
time. She brought a photograph showing her as a child
on the beach, then lined with Australian pines that have
since been replaced by condominiums. Her father, Donald
Carr, used to trim the Australian pines in the shapes
of animals including herons and whales, and sometimes
the initials of his family members, she recalled.
Another photo shows a friend who once came home from a
fishing trip proud of catching a sea turtle, she said,
remarking on how much times have changed.
Davis remembers being torn away from her friends in ninth
grade when the north part of the island became part of
Manatee County and she had to change schools. Edelman
recalls attending Longbeach Elementary School on the island,
which no longer exists, then being bused to a school in
Sarasota. Rae Reasoner remembers taking two hour lunches
at Longbeach Elementary, enough time to walk home, take
a swim, eat lunch and walk back to school.
The fish fry was the first of what the historical society
intends to make an annual event, reviving a tradition
that died out in 1956.
chief advises cities on hurricane preparation
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA Photo after photo of piles of sticks
that were once buildings flashed on the screen as Manatee
County Emergency Management Chief Laurie Fegans told Island
officials about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in
"There was a 25-foot storm surge and 10-foot wave
action on top of that," Fegans recounted. "The
surge traveled 12 miles inland, and destroyed roadways,
buildings and bridges. All the trees in the surge zone
were dying. Waveland was in ruins and the muck on the
road smelled so bad that it was stomach-turning."
Fegans traveled to Waveland as part of a Manatee County
delegation of emergency officials to help the town recover
from the hurricane. The lessons they learned can help
Island officials better prepare for an emergency. She
said things Island officials should consider are:
Talking to your bank officials about their plans
after the storm, so the city can access its funds;
Deciding what size building and generator the city
needs to set up a temporary government and how many functions
it needs to provide;
Making plans with a contractor to remove debris;
Setting up points of distribution for ice, water
and food. These should be places that residents can drive
through without getting out of their vehicles;
Deciding where they will go when they evacuate
and how they will communicate with each other.
She said Island officials also must make plans to take
care of their employees because employees wont be
able to focus if they are worried about their families.
She said county officials are considering designating
a family shelter for employees families.
"You must take care of your government before you
can take care of your citizens," she stressed. "The
county expects you to be self sufficient first, then ask
us for help second. Then the county will ask the state
and the state will ask FEMA.
Fegans advised each city to have at least one satellite
phone for communication because cell phones are unreliable
in the aftermath of a hurricane.
contests kick off Halloween
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
Kids will be in fine form
this Halloween as they have two opportunities to compete
for the best dressed spooks and goblins.
Anna Maria Elementary School students will be parading
down Gulf Drive Saturday, Oct. 29, beginning at 10 a.m.
in front of Wachovia Bank in Holmes Beach to kick off
the event, which is one of two fund-raising festivals
put on by the PTO.
When the students arrive at St. Bernard Catholic Church,
judges will decide the best dressed boy and girl from
each class. After that, the PTO's Fall Festival begins.
There will be games for the kids, food and refreshment
for all and live entertainment with Koko Ray. Each class
will have its own tent with a game, and winners will get
tickets that they can spend in the prize room inside the
The public is invited to watch the parade and join the
crowd at the church. The festival continues until 3 p.m.
On Monday, Oct. 31, kids can show off their costumes at
the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce beginning at
3:30 p.m., prior to the Trail of Treats. Judges will determine
the best costumed entrants in the Chamber parking lot
at 5313 Gulf Drive. The Chamber will pass out maps of
businesses participating in the trail and children will
be able to collect traditional Halloween treats from each
Businesses in the area around the Chamber that want to
participate should call the Chamber at 778-1651. The Trail
of Treats continues until 6 p.m.
hears about Hunters Hill
By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
CORTEZ It wasnt
your typical developers presentation, with promises
to create a manatee preserve, plant mangroves and build
fewer than half the homes allowed on the property.
But Peter Thurell isnt your typical developer.
The Swedish natives plan for the 13-acre Hunters
Hill, across Cortez Road from the Cortez Village Historic
District, calls for fewer houses and boats and more pedestrians
Thurell plans to expand the canal system that nearly surrounds
Hunters Hill, turning it into an island and creating
a new manatee preserve that will be closed to boats. Existing
canals will remain open to boats, he said, adding that
each home will have either a dock or a boat lift.
Cortez residents listening to the plans Thursday night
expressed concern about increased boat traffic in the
canals and increased car traffic on Cortez Road.
Thurell said he will close his HH Marina on the eastern
edge of the Hunters Hill property, which will reduce
boat traffic. Cortez Road is now being widened, added
Manatee County planner Aristotle Shinas.
The traffic that Thurell said he wants to increase is
from manatees and pedestrians.
The preserve will create a safe habitat for manatees,
and a continuous walkway along the mangrove-fringed canals
will connect to sidewalks leading to homes, he said, adding
that none of the homes will be directly on the water in
order to preserve pedestrian access to the waterfront.
His plan for 31 two-story single family homes, four duplexes
and a three-story commercial building with six shops topped
with townhouses facing Cortez Road is subject to approval
by the Manatee County Commission.
The Key West-style homes will be between 1,600 and 2,400
square feet on 6,700-square-foot lots. Whitehead Construction
of Cortez is slated to build the project.
The houses will be basic, with no swimming pools or hot
tubs, Thurell said, adding that it is too early to determine
a price range.
"To mimic Cortez Village, we will do a variety of
sizes and styles," he said. "We would like to
see a variety not only of houses, but of people here."
Bounded by HH Marina to the east, Cortez Road to the south
and the canal that runs under the bridge leading to the
Seafood Shack restaurant on the west and north, the project
will be heavy on landscaping, said Thurell, who has split
his time between Sweden and Cortez with his wife, Eva,
Thurell also hopes to save Pauls Automotive Services
at 12500 Cortez Road in front of the Hunters Hill
property as a historic building, while demolishing a dilapidated
structure to its rear and preserving a large pine tree.
Cottage-style homes were originally planned for Hunters
Hill, a name that Thurell invented based on the original
name of Cortez Hunters Point, a name he took
for his own home in the fishing village. But permitting
problems caused him to change his mind, he said, adding
that one of two cottages currently on the Hunters
Hill property will be moved to the village of Cortez near
Star Fish Co., but the other is too deteriorated to save.