Market snapshot: Oyster Bay Landings

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Small west of Trail waterfront subdivision offers large, estate homes in private and scenic atmosphere

Architect and developer Robert Morris and his company, Ramar Group, have created a lot of memorable neighborhoods in the Sarasota area, including Pelican Cove, the Landings, Castel Del Mare, Phillippi Creek Landings, and the Plantation Golf & Country Club in Venice. But his most beautiful development is a small, waterfront neighborhood west of the Trail: Oyster Bay Landings.

Comprising only 14 homes sites, the subdivision on Robert’s Bay across from Siesta Key is bordered by Quail Creek to the north and Pine Bay Drive to the south, next to Oyster Bay. The entrance on Camino Real features attractive wrought iron gates between two square, stone columns topped by filigreed lamps.

Two brick paver streets inside gently wind around a central boat basin. The ornamental street lights mirror the gate design. Large, estate homes, lush vegetation, which includes fruit trees, cedars and silver and royal palms, and weathered, wooden docks provide scenic views and a leisurely, old Florida atmosphere.

Morris purchased the land around 30 years ago when he wanted to move his family from Siesta Key to the mainland. At the time, it was a marina that had been operating in Oyster Bay for some 70 years. The owners still lived there but were getting on in years.

“I also acquired the property next door, and it gave us the opportunity to make it a quiet little enclave — great for having small children,” Morris said. “I always felt, if you’re going to make an investment in property in Sarasota, make it waterfront. It will keep its value.”

He took his time developing it. “I wanted it to feel like an integrated neighborhood,” he explained. “I have always been an admirer of the paintings of Thomas Kinkade and tried to give it that feel — intangible, yet tangible. At night you can see that. The glow of the streetlamps creates a romantic atmosphere.”

Morris built a large house for himself and his wife with a 2,582 square foot guest house directly on the water. When it proved too large, he tore it down and remodeled an onsite ranch home from the early 1970s.

One of his older sons built a house for himself. “He and his wife were the first to move in. That was great — our grandchildren were right down the street from us,” Morris recalled.

He invited the handful of other owners to use their own architects so that each residence would have its own character. As a result, Oyster Bay Landings has stunning homes designed by Guy Peterson, John Potvin and Jonathan Parks.

The Peterson house, a Sarasota school of Architecture inspired design, is currently for sale with an asking price of $4,385,000. Listed by Karen Greco of Greco Real Estate, it has four bedrooms and five baths, with 5,428 square feet of living space. The interior has wood and stone floors, cypress ceilings, walnut stairs, an elevator, plantation shutters, and a 400-botlle wine room.

“It’s coastal style with balconies, metal roof and a four-car garage, and blends beautifully into the neighborhood,” Greco said. “And it’s gorgeous on the inside, combining luxury and dynamic spatial comfort.”

The other home on the market, for $2.1 million, is the guest house on the water. Sitting on 18,819 square feet of land, it has 671 feet of waterfront (almost unheard of in Sarasota), it was built in 1945 in modernist style and has a vaulted ceiling living room, three bedrooms and three baths, and two large screened patios.

“Although it has been remodeled, it will probably get bulldozed to make room for a large new bayfront home,” said Greco.

Greco represents all the available property in Oyster Bay Landings — in addition to the two residences, there are five empty lots. She points out one such homesite on the boat basin, vacant except for a 900 square feet dock. “The county would not let you build this anymore,” she said. “But it has been grandfathered in and would make a nice platform and extension to someone’s pool deck.”

Most of the residents of Oyster Bay Landings live there year-round and include CEOs of companies, and a former professional baseball player. They love the quiet seclusion and convenience. The Field Club is within walking distance, as are such restaurants and shopping venues as Trader Joes, Walt’s Fish Market, Barnes and Noble, Best Buy, and Café Baci.

“I don’t know of another place in Sarasota where you get security and such a feeling of neighborhood,” said Morris.

He plans to complete it over the next two to three years. “I want to be sure to finish it the way it began,” he explained. “I have a large emotional investment in Oyster Bay Landings in addition to the financial investment,” he said. “Most of the trees in here I planted 30 years ago.” He adds, “The values will be steady. It’s a good investment.”

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