Longboat Key, Florida | June 19th, 2018 – There’s no doubt about it. Condominiums are very much a part of the development of the real estate market in Longboat Key as well as one of the town’s defining character. For this reason, it is quite heartwarming to note that a historical marker has been set to commemorate the 50-year history of the Whitney Beach Condominium Association.
Early brochures of this condominium provide some nostalgic glimpses of the Longboat Key town itself and how far our present-day condo residences have evolved to meet the ever-changing wants and needs of the market.
Digging deeper even provides more charming insights on this property, as what the late founder of the paper Longboat Observer, Ralph Hunter, noted in his 2002 pictorial book about the island quaintly titled From Calusas to Condominiums. The story of Whitney Beach, Hunter wrote, began in 1935 when the couple of Gordon and Lora Whitney bought a gulf-to-bay property at the northern end of Longboat Key.
In the 1,000-foot beachfront of the parcel, the Whitneys had 13 resort cottages built, along with their family residence, according to Hunter. A tennis court and a skeet range were also among the features of the couple’s resort property around the block of 6750 Gulf of Mexico Drive.
Members of the U.S. military resided in the Whitney Beach property during World II, and after the war, the Whitneys operated it as a resort again till it was closed in 1957. In 1968, the Whitneys sold this property to Paul Neal Jr., father of prominent Lakewood Ranch-based developer Pat Neal who helped his dad in developing Whitney Beach.
The Neals’ Community Imprint
The elder Neal seized the opportunities of the then emerging Longboat Key condominium market in the 1960s and the 1970s, which providentially saw the construction the town’s first condo—the Longboat Key Towers. After Neal’s purchase of the Whitney Beach property, he at once set on developing it till it was fully completed in 1971. The first shopping center in Longboat Key was also built on the abutting parcel to the north and was named Whitney Beach Plaza.
The Whitney Beach condos were constructed in clusters of two-story townhouses and one-story villas. Most of these clusters sits east of Gulf of Mexico Drive on the bayside while the other condos are backed up to the beach across the street.
Gracious in Amenities
Amenities are incorporated at both the bayside and gulf front of the Whitney Beach complex. The gulf side features a conservancy area providing direct beach access and recreational facilities including tennis courts, a swimming pool, a picnic area and two tiki huts with beach furnishings.
On the bayside of the condominium, there’s a fishing pier, boat house, and boat docks off Bishop’s Bayou that opens to Sarasota Bay. All of the Whitney Beach townhouse clusters each have their own community pools as well.
Like much of Longboat Key which has grown immensely as compared to yesteryears, the Whitney Beach property indeed has gone a long way since its birth in the 1930s. Nonetheless, this community has retained much of its “Old Florida” feel, a character surely celebrated in the historical marker of its homeowners association’s 50th year.
Given Longboat Key’s colorful history, hunting for an available house or condo in the island would surely be a unique experience of discovery. Avail of our long years of exploring the buying and selling opportunities in our town. Call or e-mail the Judy Kepecz-Hays team, we’re ready and eager to partner with you in initiating and eventually closing either a property sale or a residential purchase.