Sprawling waterfront property in Indian Beach is on the market for $ 22 million


Want to own a bunch of Sarasota berries with a side of local history? Right now it’s the highest price for a residential listing in Sarasota County, but if you consider the breadth of what you’re getting, it could be good value for money. It’s big, about 7 1/2 acres. Priced at $ 22 million, that comes down to about $ 67.50 per square foot. For context, a single-family home next door on just under half an acre is on the market for $ 5.45 million.

The total property, located at Indian Beach-Sapphire Shores in northern Sarasota, consists of five plots: 4619, 4511, 4521, 4600 and 4645 Bay Shore Road. The largest of the plots, 4645 Bay Shore, can be divided into four one-acre properties on the bay, or the buyer can keep them all together to create a family-friendly resort. According to current zoning standards, the minimum land area is 21,780 square feet. This means that the purchase could bring in a total of 15 single family homes.

With the exception of a smaller house on the east side of Bay Shore Road, the property curves along the Indian Beach-Sapphire shores and encompasses over 700 feet of Sarasota Bay. This neighborhood is one of the oldest in Sarasota and in the 1920s it was described in promotional materials as having some of the “prettiest grounds in the whole bay, close to the lavish homes of wealthy northern tourists who spend their winters here. ”By the way, these wealthy northern tourists included the Ringling Brothers, Colonel CM Thompson of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, and DL Wooster, a Cincinnati maker.

The large property includes two historic houses. The Earle House at 4521 Bay Shore Road was built by George Earle in 1927 as a winter retreat and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was rented until last month.

The Etowah Hagan-Jackson House, built in 1925, is named after the North Georgia River, where one of the original owners, Lee Hagan, was from. Hagan built the Mediterranean revival home as a winter getaway, and it was part of the first plot of land investors purchased in Sarasota. He sold it to Felix Jackson, who owned it for a long time.

This home was featured in Sarasota Magazine when it was a Jewelery Store on the Designer Showhouse in 2019. It is listed in the Florida Master Site File, a state-level historical register, and demolition would require approval of the Sarasota Historic Preservation Board.

But John Cuneo Jr. didn’t live in any of the historic homes, choosing instead to stay in the seven-bedroom, six-bathroom home on the larger plot of 4645 Ainsley Place, built in 1935.

Cuneo, originally from Chicago, had an exotic and somewhat controversial past that involved the circus. His father owned Cuneo Press, one of the largest commercial printing companies in the country, which printed Ringling Bros. programs.

In the 1950s, Cuneo married Herta Klauser, of German descent, who and her family performed in a famous bear act performed for the Ringling Brothers Circus at a Chicago fair. In 1957, Cuneo founded the Hawthorn Corporation and hosted and rented exotic animals to other circuses. Cuneo’s animals have toured the country and the world, and he has become one of the country’s largest suppliers of circus animals, a dubious recognition as he also became the first person in the country to see himself confiscate an elephant for negligence. (Eventually, 16 of his elephants were seized by the USDA under the Animal Welfare Act, and he was ordered to pay a civil fine of $ 200,000.)

At one point, Cuneo’s neighbors in Sarasota feared he was considering moving tigers to their neighborhood after applying for permits to put up an 8-foot-high wall – Florida was demanding a minimum height to keep them. In the end, animals were never kept on earth.

But Cuneo and Herta were also philanthropists, involved in the board of trustees of Loyola University in Chicago, chairing numerous fundraisers and contributing to the medical school program with the donation of a medical education building on the Loyola campus.

After the death of his parents, the Cuneo Foundation, the family foundation of John Cuneo Jr. and his wife Herta, donated his childhood Italian mansion to Loyola University in Chicago in 2009. The donation $ 50 million, the largest in Loyola’s history, included the house’s extensive collection. art and furnishings. The Cuneo Foundation also offered high school and middle school students scholarships based on need.

In Sarasota, the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art has a conservation lab named after the couple. After Herta’s death in 2017, her estate donated $ 10 million to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall the following year. John Cuneo died in 2019 at the age of 88. The entire plot in northern Sarasota is sold under the Cuneo Trust.

Michael Saunders & Company real estate agent Kim Ogilvie, who represents sellers, says in her 38 years in real estate in Sarasota, she hasn’t seen an opportunity like this . “When you walk around the property, it truly is a Garden of Eden. It’s lots of royal palms, mature oaks and dense vegetation, mixed with meticulously maintained landscaping,” she says. A developer plans to build houses on plots by the water and turn one of the historic houses into a clubhouse. The 1935 house across the street at 4600 Bay Shore Road could be ideal for housing the custodians of the property. Another potential buyer sees it as a family estate.

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