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Market Snapshot: Bird Key in Sarasota

Source: Sarasota Herald Tribune

Bird Key, one of Sarasota's most prestigious neighborhoods, was developed by Arvida Corp., which bought the small island as part of its $13.5 million purchase of 2,200 acres from John Ringling North in 1959. Arvida dreged and filled the 12-acre island to 200 acres, creating an island of wealth that is a property tax revenue machine for local governments.

Bird Key, one of Sarasota’s most prestigious neighborhoods, was developed by Arvida Corp., which bought the small island as part of its $13.5 million purchase of 2,200 acres from John Ringling North in 1959. Arvida dredged and filled the 12-acre island to 200 acres, creating an island of wealth that is a property tax revenue machine for local governments.

By Harold Bubil

Photo Gallery

Published: Friday, August 28, 2015

Fifty-five may be the new 40, or so say many aging Americans, but for a yacht club, 55 is 55, plain and simple.

A good age for a facelift.

Bird Key, one of Sarasota’s most prestigious neighborhoods, was developed by Arvida Corp., which bought the small island as part of its $13.5 million purchase of 2,200 acres from John Ringling North in 1959. Arvida dredged and filled the 12-acre island to 200 acres, creating an island of wealth that is a property tax revenue machine for local governments. Staff photo / Harold Bubil; 8-21-2015.

Bird Key, one of Sarasota’s most prestigious neighborhoods, was developed by Arvida Corp., which bought the small island as part of its $13.5 million purchase of 2,200 acres from John Ringling North in 1959. Arvida dredged and filled the 12-acre island to 200 acres, creating an island of wealth that is a property tax revenue machine for local governments. Staff photo / Harold Bubil; 8-21-2015.

Built in 1960, Bird Key Yacht Club, centerpiece of one of Sarasota’s most desirable neighborhoods, is undergoing refurbishment as its leadership strives to add 70 members to its current roll of 330. The club’s new general manager, Robert Brown, said about $2.5 million is being spent on remaking seawalls and replacing piers. The carpets have been cleaned and the bar revarnished. The building and deck have been repainted, and the kitchen rewired with better lighting for the staff, led by four certified chefs.

“Our aim is to present our best face,” said Brown, formerly of Venetian Golf and River Club in Venice. He noted that in 2011, the clubhouse’s façade was remodeled with a new porte cochere and other design elements that give it a neotraditional appearance.

Brown also would like to expand the outdoor dining area, increasing its capacity from about 50 to 150, to take advantage of “the best view in Sarasota” — eastward to the downtown skyline. “That would increase revenues and people wanting to be here,” he said. “Outdoor dining is a popular thing.

“That is two years down the road. But if we increase our membership to 400 in the next year, we will have the money to do that, no problem.”

The Bird Key Yacht Club is being refurbished in an effort to increase the membership from 330 to about 400. The club was built in 1960, after Arvida Corp. bought the Ringling Estate holdings on the barrier islands for $13.5 million in 1959. Staff photo / Harold Bubil; 8-21-2015.
The Bird Key Yacht Club is being refurbished in an effort to increase the membership from 330 to about 400. The club was built in 1960, after Arvida Corp. bought the Ringling Estate holdings on the barrier islands for $13.5 million in 1959. Staff photo / Harold Bubil; 8-21-2015.

Those new members will pay an initiation fee of $7,500 and an annual dues bill of $4,500, along with dining-room minimums of $1,200 for households and $600 for individuals.

The club has 39 employees, but it is member-driven, which means volunteers organize much of the activity through committees for marketing, membership, art displays and social events, among other functions.

“We are a very friendly club,” said 15-year resident Lynne Koy, one of those volunteers. “Because we are member-driven, we have the opportunity for people to be engaged. Once you are engaged on a committee with other members, they become your friends.”

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