Golden Gate Point has developed over the last century as one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Downtown Sarasota.
Like Bird Key, Golden Gate Point is another community that has been built by Sarasota ingenuity, creating residences with some of the most spectacular views in the entire County. Nestled in Sarasota Bay at the east end of the John Ringling Bridge, Golden Gate Point has become one of Downtown Sarasota's most exclusive neighborhoods. It's hard to believe that much of the 22-acre peninsula was still undeveloped only a few decades ago.
When it was first platted on August 31, 1899, the small strip of land was little more than a mangrove swamp. Thick with cabbage palms and other vegetation at the turn of the century, the only building was a two-stroke fish house at the end of a pier, followed by a boat builder and a saw mill. Manatee County registered the land as part of the town of Sarasota in 1900, and Sarasota's first jail house was constructed on the north end.
In 1910, the property, then called Cedar Point, was purchased by Owen Burns, who began development with a new home for the Sarasota Yacht and Automobile Club. Opened in 1913, the clubhouse was finally demolished in 1964. Yet while it stood there, the property around it went through an astounding metamorphosis.
Starting in 1922, Burns began a dredging and fill project that included developing seawalls, drastically increasing the size of the property. The project is estimated to have cost between $75,000 and $125,000, a great investment considering that homes on the property now range from $500,000 to $5 million.
As Burns continued development, he partnered with circus magnate John Ringling in building the first bridge and causeway connecting Bird Key, St. Armands Key, and Lido Key to the mainland, beginning the project on New Year’s Eve in 1925 and completing one year to the day, celebrating the formal opening in February, 1926. That same year, Cedar Point was renamed Golden Gate Point with newly platted lots and paved streets. Unfortunately, with the collapse of the Florida land boom in the 1920's, the first residence was not built until 1937.
In addition to serving as a park from which to launch fireworks on the Fourth of July, Golden Gate Point saw its first explosion of housing in the 1940's. Starting with the four-unit Golden Gate Apartments, the next decade also saw the construction of a number of single-family homes, apartment buildings, and motels, which were later converted into apartments. The Golden Gate Point Homeowners Association was founded in 1955, becoming the first Florida not-for-profit corporation to be filed in response to the request of the property owners, and two years later, Riviera, Gulf, and Sunset Drives were all renamed to become a single street, Golden Gate Drive.
Although more two-story apartment buildings and motels were built in the 1960's, Golden Gate Point wouldn't start taking shape as the exclusive neighborhood it is now until the construction of The Renaissance in 1993. It was also the year Golden Gate Drive finally got a traffic light at the entrance, 25 years after the first request to the City of Sarasota. A handful of buildings constructed between 1940 and 1970 still remain in the neighborhood, with Pier 550 being the oldest among them. After the lavish streetscape improvements in 2009, and the continued development of contemporary condominiums, it hardly resembles the neighborhood it was only a decade ago.
Walking distance to Downtown Sarasota, these homes are just minutes away from theatres, dining, the Farmers' Market, and so much of what downtown living has to offer. Add in some of the most spectacular views in the area, it's easy to see why, these days, Golden Gate Point residents don't move often so it can be a rarity to find a home on the market. If you'd like to me to keep my eyes open for the possibilities, let me know.
Sarasota Area Real Estate Specialist