Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Greatest Show on Earth...in Sarasota!

Those of us who live in Sarasota, Florida are so fortunate to reside in a town where art, music and theater thrive. What’s better than lounging on the Number One Beach all day and then enjoying a great production at the Sarasota Opera, an exhibit at the Ringling Museum or a concert at The Van Wezel? There are also monthly art walks, professional classes and world class entertainment which are offered every evening in Sarasota.
If you grew up on Sarasota or have lived here a long time, you might be familiar with the history of the Sarasota Opera building which used to be the Florida Theatre. First of all, ‘Downtown’ was the ONLY place to go – there were no malls. When I was a kid in my early moving-going days, this was where I went with my buddies on Saturday. For 25 cents, we had the bus ride at 5 cents each way (I lived near the Ringling Museum) the movie entry for a dime and 5 cents for box of candy and a soda!  We would have a full morning of cartoons and a feature movie…usually Commander Cody and his Jet Pack!

It was called the ‘Florida Theatre’ back in my day but this building is now the Sarasota Opera House and was first the Edwards Theatre, built in 1926 by A.B. Edwards, Sarasota's first mayor. "It was more than just a movie theatre, it was for vaudeville, live entertainment played here, there were some retail establishments downstairs, some apartments upstairs and some offices upstairs," says my Cardinal Mooney classmate and Sarasota County historian Jeff LaHurd. The Florida Theatre bought it in 1936. "When they were renovating this place, Jane Mansfield signed her name with 42, 26, 36 next to it." The Academy Award winning film The Greatest Show on Earth, filmed in Sarasota, had its Florida premier there in 1952 – my wife’s mother watched as they filmed it! And…did you know that Elvis Presley played there in 1956?  The evening show was a dollar for adults, 50 cents for kids.

After almost five decades, the Florida Theater closed its doors in 1973. In 1979, the Sarasota Opera Association bought the building and spent $7 million restoring it. Then in 2008, a $20 million renovation turned it into a world class facility. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, it is gorgeous and one of the most popular venues in Sarasota. Sarasota Opera's mission includes the mandate "to entertain, enrich, and educate our communities, as well as patrons from across the state and around the world."

Then there was The Ritz Theater, which asked for 5 cents and an RC Bottle cap for entry. (There was a Dixie Lee’s Bar next door where my Dad would toss back a few!) The Ritz was originally The ‘Virginian’, and was opened by B.D. Robinson in 1916. Initially a vaudeville house, it began showing motion pictures a few months after opening. The Virginian became ‘The Sarasota’ sometime in the 20's, and then changed its name to The Ritz in 1934. The Ritz was the first of the two major downtown theaters to close. It was operated by Florida State Theaters in its later years and the building was demolished in 1968. But both The Ritz and The Florida theaters got many quarters from me and many hours of entertainment! 

Be sure to ready my HomeTown Blog about my memories of Sarasota's Drive-In movies:

http://sarasotaron.blogspot.com/2017/02/hometown-sarasota-drive-in-movies.html

And...if you are looking to buy or sell a home in the Sarasota, Bradenton, Englewood area, (or discuss Commander Cody!) I'm your Home Town Guy! Call Ron Beahm at Re/Max Alliance Group - 941-315-1185.


Sources and Credits: Sarasota History Alive, sarasotaopera.org, totaltheater.com, cinematreasures.org


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

My wife Liz and I have been enjoying going to the Tampa Bay Ray’s games at Tropicana Field for many years…sadly, they aren’t having such a great season this year. But we don’t care! Once a fan, always a fan and we support our ‘home team’ - it matters not whether they win. 

Even though Sarasota doesn’t really have our own home team now (other than the Orioles Spring Training games), baseball has been part of Sarasota’s history and lifestyle since the 1920's when the City of Sarasota wanted to bring a major league team to Sarasota and began developing Payne Park.

Once built, the new Payne Park baseball diamond met one of the stipulations of John McGraw, owner of the New York Giants, for bringing his team to Sarasota for spring training. Thus began Sarasota's continuing relationship with major league baseball. After trying to bring the Philadelphia Athletics and the New York Yankees, Sarasota got the New York Giants to hold spring training at Payne Park beginning in 1924.

After the New York Giants left in the spring of 1927, Sarasota wanted another major league team but nothing could be arranged. In 1929, the Sports Committee arranged for the Indianapolis Indians, to train at Payne Park. Having the Indians spring train at Payne Park provided much needed tourism to the Sarasota area. With the end of the land boom and the beginning of the Great Depression era, money was in short supply in both the city and county. As the Great Depression was affecting businesses all over the country, including baseball, the Indians decided to train closer to home.

The Sports Committee again took on the task of looking for another team to replace the Indians. They made arrangements with the Boston Red Sox to come train in Sarasota in the spring of 1933. The Red Sox agreed to play one season and if they approved of the playing park and conditions, they would return the following year. The Red Sox agreed to return in 1934 and continued to spring train in Sarasota until 1958. From the time Ted Williams drove up to the Sarasota Terrace Hotel in "an old jalopy" as a Boston Red Sox rookie, until the Sox concluded their spring training games in Sarasota, Williams was a popular subject in the local press and community.

The last tenant of Payne Park for spring training was the Chicago White Sox, who first arrived in 1960. After 29 years they moved to the new Ed Smith Stadium on 12th Street. Ed Smith Stadium was formerly the spring home of the Chicago White Sox (1989–1997) and the Baltimore Orioles (1991). In 1998, it replaced Plant City Stadium as the spring training home of the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds remained at the facility through 2008. After Cincinnati's club moved its spring activities to Arizona, Ed Smith Stadium spent a year without major league Spring Training. From 1989 to 2009, the stadium hosted a series of Minor League Baseball teams, the Single-A Sarasota White Sox, Sarasota Red Sox, and Sarasota Reds. From 2004 until 2009, it housed the Gulf Coast League's Gulf Coast Reds. The Orioles became Ed Smith’s tenant and operator in 2010 and Liz and I have enjoyed many Spring Training games there.

Baseball is, in the truest sense, a pastime...something that amuses and serves to make time pass agreeably. In a world that demands so much of us and our limited time, there’s something to be said for passing it agreeably. It's timeless and nostalgic. No matter what, it makes you think of older times some way or another. Columnist George F. Will has said, “Baseball is a habit. The slowly rising crescendo of each game, the rhythm of the long season—these are the essentials and they are remarkably unchanged over nearly a century and a half. Of how many American institutions can that be said?” He’s right.


If you are looking to buy or sell a home in Sarasota, Florida or the surrounding areas, call me and I will make it happen…and maybe we can take a break go to a baseball game together! PLAY BALL!


Sources and Credits: Sarasota History Center, Wikipedia, Sarasota History Alive, Sarasota Herald Tribune, scgov.net

Monday, August 21, 2017

Location, Location, Location?

My wife sometimes teases me about the fact that I carry a compass (well...I used to carry an actual compass but now I use the one on my iPhone). We have all heard the saying about real estate: “Location, Location, Location”. But I want to discuss this in a slightly different way. 

For those of you who are thinking about moving to Sarasota, Florida, and are actively looking at homes, I will always ask you this...which direction do you want your new home to face? I also utilize that compass on my smart phone as I am showing clients various homes so that they will get a feel for the movement of light from sunrise to sunset in each home they view.

Living in Sarasota means that you will have lots of sun, on a regular basis, streaming into your home. Choosing a home that maximizes the natural light, while still giving you the needed shade can be an important issue. When I was a young man building homes with my dad in Sarasota, we always oriented our spec homes to take advantage of the prevailing breeze to avoid the heat load of the western sun...but we didn't have such great insulation back then. So what is the perfect orientation for your new home? The answer may be different from one person to another.

Many homes in Florida use the open concept style - no walls between living, dining and kitchen. This style allows light to flow through the entire living area. Large sliding glass doors often are used as an exit to the lanai and pool. Keeping this in mind, you must decide what is most important to you. Do you want a direct view of our beautiful sunsets? If so choose a home with a west facing lanai. But…unless you have some trees to give you some shade, a west facing lanai gets the hot afternoon sun every day. Another thing to consider is if your pool uses solar panels be sure they are properly placed for maximum exposure.

If you prefer to wake up each morning to sunshine streaming into your room, you may want to choose a home with a master bedroom that faces east. If you are set on seeing the sun go down every evening, go for a home that maximizes that view. You may have to compromise on one thing or another, but no matter what you choose, you will love living in paradise! Give me a call at Re/Max Alliance Group and I will help you 'go in the right direction' and find the best location for your dream home in Sarasota, Florida!

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Dog Days of Summer Aren't So Bad!

Find a dream home in Sarasota, Florida
Now that we are in the dog days of summer, new residents of Sarasota, Florida may be wondering if it will ever cool off and if we do indeed have ‘Seasons’. Even though we have sunny weather most of the time, we do have seasons here in Florida. Though the seasons may not be as recognizable as those in the North, there are differences in each season.

Summer, as you probably know tends to be very hot…but there is almost always a breeze off the Gulf of Mexico to enjoy. When I was a kid growing up in Sarasota, we didn’t have air-conditioning but we somehow survived on the breeze! Summer starts sometime in May, as the temps begin to climb. Temperatures average in the high 80's to mid 90's and more. It’s a good time to enjoy the A/C during the day and the pool in the evening. The best times to visit the beaches are early in the morning and of course, in the evening for the beautiful sunsets. 
Summer also brings the rainy season and the threat of hurricanes. Thankfully, it’s been many years since Sarasota has experienced a hurricane. There are some theories and local superstitions as to why the city of Sarasota has not had a direct hit from a storm since record keeping began back in 1871; the wildest one has to do with American Indian Spirits that still protect the area. These are what are known as “Urban Legends.” Others say that the Sarasota area is safe due to Mother Nature’s placement of the sand dunes on the coastal beaches, or the magic powers of Siesta Key’s white sand beaches and underwater crystals. Whatever reason people believe, we have stayed safe from these potentially monster storms along the Sarasota Sun Coast for quite a number of years. The record books say that Sarasota did take on varying degrees of damage from hurricanes in 1926, 1944 and 1950. So the best thing to do during storm season, which peaks in early September, is to keep your eyes and ears open for weather news and go on with your fun in the Sarasota sun! Regarding plants, Florida native plants grow like crazy during the summer; grass needs to be cut once a week. If we do have a good rainy season, we have to cut grass every five days or so. A typical rainy season produces the chance of afternoon or evening showers, on any day. In years past, I could almost set my watch by the 4:00 PM showers which cleaned and cooled the air for evening.

Fall usually starts about mid-October. Floridians really look forward to the cooler temperatures and lower humidity levels. It’s finally time to open the windows and enjoy the fresh air! For Halloween, there is as much a chance for very warm weather as there is for a cool evening. Hurricane season ends November 30th, a date we are all happy to see. This is a good time to enjoy the beaches, or go to Myakka State Park for a wildlife tour. There are not many tourists yet, and the seasonal residents (Snowbirds) have not yet arrived.

Winter in Florida can be a surprise. Even as a lifetime Florida resident, it’s still weird decorating for Christmas when it is 75 degrees outside, but that is most often the case. If you look closely, there are subtle differences in the plants as the temps get a bit cooler. Some tree leaves change color a little bit, but nothing like up North.
We have seen winters where the overnight temps never dropped below 55 degrees. On the other hand, the temps have dropped to the mid-twenties in the past. Some of the plants lose their leaves, but not many. The grass slows its growth, to the point where it only needs to be mowed every 14-20 days.  Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Snowbirds arrive in force. Stores, streets, beaches and restaurants become very crowded.

Spring, the best season in Florida! Starting in about mid March, spring usually offers cool nights, warm days and lower humidity.  A day at the beach can literally be an all day affair, as long as you don’t mind crowds. Springtime brings lots of guests and tourists to the Sunshine state. The Snowbirds have not yet made their way back North and the Spring Breakers pay a visit although it’s not as crazy as on the East coast of Florida. In our area, we do not get the large groups of young people looking to party hard, but we do get a good amount of those looking for a spot in the sun to relax. Just as in the North, spring brings new life to plants and some animals. If there were frosty nights in the winter and some of the plants lost leaves, new growth starts now. You can actually see some of the trees and plants get a greener color. Oak and pine trees start to throw off pollen, causing problems for those with allergies. So, Spring is not without some disadvantages; it arrives at the peak of the dry season. With the low humidity levels and the lack of rain for several months, the chance for brush fires is heightened.

A few other 'unofficial' Florida seasonal dates:
  • Hurricane season is June 1 to November 30
  • Snowbird season is about October to May, give or take a few weeks 
  • Strawberry season is December through May depending on the weather
  • Fishing seasons vary by species
  • Alligator mating season runs from about mid April to June, so watch out on the golf course! 
Having said all of the above, I'm sure you will agree that despite the lack of definitive seasons, we live in Paradise! No snow to shovel! Golf and beach-walking every day! Beautiful sunsets every night! What's not to love? So if you are looking to actually LIVE in Paradise, call me and I will help you find your dream home in Sarasota, Longboat Key, Venice, Englewood and Manasota Key.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Gillespie Park - Downtown Sarasota’s Newest Up-and-Coming Neighborhood

In keeping with reminiscing about my Home Town of Sarasota, Gillespie Park is one of the areas that I have seen change, especially lately, since my childhood days growing up in north Sarasota.

Gillespie Park has become one of Sarasota's great places to live for young professionals and retirees and empty nesters. With its great neighborhood feel, large trees, charming architecture and downtown location convenient to all the of Sarasota's amenities, Gillespie Park’s popularity is exploding. Nestled between Fruitville Road, 10th Street, U.S. 301 and Orange Avenue, the subdivision consists of old bungalows, cottages and Spanish-style townhouses, many of them dating to the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s. A good number have been refurbished and renovated, or are in the process. With its lush vegetation and stately pines and oak trees providing a shady canopy, Gillespie Park has a distinctly Old Florida feeling.

So here’s a bit of history! Gillespie Park honors John Hamilton Gillespie, first mayor of Sarasota. This land was part of the town's experimental farm and when that failed due to poor soil, Gillespie laid out a golf course in 1886. After the turn of the century, the subdivision was platted for residential use. The real estate boom of the 1920s brought a wave of new inhabitants, and the neighborhood was named after Gillespie, who had arrived in town as one of the Scottish immigrants, built a hotel on Main Street and served as the city’s first mayor.

A focal point of the Gillespie Park neighborhood is the historic park named after Gillespie. The city created the park on 10 acres of undeveloped land purchased for that purpose in 1924. Gillespie Park was developed with special emphasis on recreation for children and, in 1926, won an award in the National Playground Beautification Contest. An oasis of trees and green open space, Gillespie Park now provides tennis courts, picnic pavilion, playground recreational facilities, and features a lovely meandering pond.

If you are looking for a great place to live in Sarasota that has on old Florida feel but is close to the many amenities in downtown Sarasota, call me, your Home Town Realtor!



SRQecoseeker.com, Activerain.com, Sarasota Herald Tribune, Sarasotagov.com

Friday, May 5, 2017

Re/Max Alliance Group is Number One!


With over 300 Realtors in our office, Re/Max Alliance is the NUMBER ONE RE/MAX in Florida. Re/Max Alliance has a proven track record of success in all facets of real estate brokerage - residential, commercial and property management.

What it takes to be number one is an easy question to ask. But implementing it takes great pain and sacrifice. It is something many do not have the stamina to continue to do. Re/Max Alliance Group does. What it takes to be number one is more than a plan. It is hard work and not giving up.


Consider:
  • The number 1 is synonymous to being the best
  • The number 1 symbolizes the leader
  • The number 1 is the number of confidence.
  • The longest word in the English language containing only ONE vowel is “strengths”!
Becoming a successful real estate agent is a combination of getting the right education and finding an established broker such as Re/Max Alliance Group. I am proud to work with the best…and the number one office! If you are looking to buy or sell a home in Sarasota, Bradenton, Venice, Englewood or on Manasota Key, call me...your Hometown Realtor!

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Safety and Security of Online Contracts


In my last blog, I discussed the evolution of technology as it relates to the world of real estate and specifically, online contracts and signatures. In this posting, I will discuss this further, especially the safety and security of these online documents and signatures.

On July 25, 2000, the first paperless real estate transaction took place in Broward County, Florida. That transaction involved the purchase and financing of a home and took less than five minutes to record. Confirmed documents bearing all necessary recording data were immediately returned to the settlement agent via e-mail. Images of the recorded documents were immediately available on the county’s website.

Paperless real estate transactions save time, and time is money. The process of accepting a purchase and sale contract; executing closing documents, the promissory note and mortgage; a compliance review by the lender; transferring the deed and the mortgage to be verified and recorded at the county office building; and issuing the title on the property — all can be sent electronically to the market for loan servicing rights. This process from beginning to end can be completed within one business day.

It has become clear that innovation and the paperless real estate transaction are essential in maintaining accurate consumer records and coordinating a seamless real estate transaction with great benefits to the consumer, the lending institutions and all the real estate professionals involved. Real estate documents often contain sensitive information and represent some of life’s most important transactions. With regard to security, a key advantage with e-signatures is this: Should an e-signed document’s validity ever be called into question, agents and their organizations can know with certainty that those documents are legally sound and defensible because the evidence of the signature is embedded into the document itself. And because independent e-signatures adhere to published, international standards, the signed document is valid forever.

Signatures have been the bane of a real estate professional’s existence for generations. With purchase agreements and closings getting more complicated every year, with more and more layers of mandatory disclosures, regulations, title assurances, and anything else you care to name, it’s easy for customers to miss a signature or initial. Historically, this meant that the real estate agent winds up expending precious prospecting time driving across town to track down the parties, or spending money to prepare and send documents back to them via FedEx. Now, this can all be taken easily and quickly online.

The signature request allows me to send a ‘sign form request’ and allows my clients to sign with a truly wet signature using a tablet or cellphone! My client can also use a laptop touch pad and a traditional mouse on a desktop computer too. There are easy methods for the computer challenged client where they are allowed to type and pick a font for their signature as well.

Are these programs legal? Electronic contracts and electronic signatures are just as legal and enforceable as traditional paper contracts signed in ink. Federal legislation enacted in 2000, known as the Electronic Signatures in Global and International Commerce Act (ESGICA), removed the uncertainty that previously plagued e-contracts. This e-signature law made electronic contracts and signatures as legally valid as paper contracts, which was great news for companies that conduct business online

Are these programs secure? These signature solutions use digital certificates to provide security and authentication. User authentication is enhanced by the fact that they require multiple layers of authentication. Virtually all electronic signature solutions generate an “audit trail” that includes the path the documents traveled and computer-generated event information such as the date and time the documents were signed as well as the IP address of the computer used to sign and send the documents.

No one wants to have a real estate transaction delayed because of a paperwork kerfuffle. Fortunately, there’s a better way, thanks to a miracle of modern information technology. It’s time to embrace the e-signature!

If you have any questions about online signatures, call me, your Sarasota Hometown Realtor and I will be happy to discuss this with you and…help you buy or sell your home in Sarasota, Florida.




Sources and credits: The Washington Post, Online Sunshine/The Florida Statues, NOLO Press