Marsha Fottler| Correspondent
Venice Island residents Genice and Jack Sullivan are selling their three-bedroom, three-bath home but they are not leaving their beloved island. Their current 5,000-square-foot waterfront home at 444 Bayshore Drive is on the market for $3,500,000 through Lueanne Wood of Gulf Shores Realty. While they love the location, their house itself has become more than they want to maintain at this point in their lives. They are going to downsize to a neighborhood not on water that is an easy walk to downtown shops and restaurants.
The house they are selling is one they bought four years ago when they moved from a neighborhood on the island that wasnt on water. As boaters, they wanted the waterfront lifestyle and this house had it in abundance beautiful vistas of Roberts Bay, a private dock and boat lift, and excellent boating water. At dead low tide there is still five and a half feet of water at the dock, said Jack Sullivan, and there are no bridges to the Gulf.
The Sullivans semi-retired to this part of Florida some 20 years ago. We made a thorough search of cities on both the west and east coasts and it was actually a Danish couple who suggested that we explore Venice. We did and that was it. We were charmed by Venice Island the size, the beauty, the convenience, the peacefulness and its so close to wonderful beaches. We bought a house on water and eventually we also bought a seasonal place in Colorado. But after a few years, we sold that home and decided to stay put in Venice year round. It was a good decision. We love it here and over the years our friends and children and grandchildren come to visit from Connecticut, Michigan, Oregon and New Jersey.
Their second house was in a neighborhood not on water and they loved the convenience of walking to downtown amenities. But four years ago they had a yen for the boating life again and their Realtor Lueanne Wood found them the Bayshore Drive house. It was built in 1997. Besides the water, dock and boat lift, the oversized lot and the three-car garage the Sullivans were happy with the outdoor entertaining space. We can open up the sliders and easily have 50 people here and it doesnt feel crowded. Our kids and grandkids love the salt-water pool and being outside or on the boat.
When the Sullivans bought the house, it was in sound shape and the changes they made to the inside were minor and cosmetic such as updating appliances and fixtures. But, they made significant improvements outside.
We put in a new sea wall, said Sullivan, and we converted the pool to salt-water. We redid all the landscaping and pavers and added amenities to the outdoor spaces where we have a grilling station and outdoor dining. The house itself was built right in the first place so all we had to do inside was re-decorate to our taste and update features in the kitchen, baths and laundry room. The floor plan is open and can easily accommodate lots of people. Its a convenient house that was well thought out. The home was custom built by J & J Homes in 1997.
The kitchen in the home is open to the family room and features a double-sided, raised-hearth gas fireplace with an impressive stone surround. There are two kitchen islands, one is a prep space and the other an eating counter that seats six to eight. Aquarium glass at a third kitchen eating bar provides clear views of Roberts Bay. A coffered ceiling is a special design feature. The kitchen has stainless appliances, two French-door refrigerators, double sinks, gas range, granite counters and marble flooring. It can host a big party as well as accommodate several cooks.
The owners bedroom is so spacious that there are three ceiling fans in the room as well as a separate raised reading nook that could also be a small home gym. French doors open to the pool deck and a covered patio. There are two custom walk-in closets. The floors are marble and the ceiling is coffered. The stately en-suite bath has separate vanity areas, a walk-in shower, wrap-around mirrors and a lavish separate soaking tub that is flanked by fluted classical columns. A crystal chandler is suspended over the tub which is theatrically positioned in front of a large arched window.
Mediterranean Revival touches such as arches, columns, marble floors and stone accents are throughout the inside and define the architecture outside. The front porch and the back pool area are rimmed with limestone balustrades common to homes in Italy and the roof is tile.
Venice, so named because of the canals characteristic of Venice, Italy, has always had a preference for Mediterranean Revival architecture and many new homes in the city tend to be modifications of that style. The area began seeing serious settlement in the 1870s when Richard Roberts established a homestead. Since the 1920s, there has been a concerted effort to feature Italian-style architecture to create a harmonious community of businesses and residences. Venice City covers about 16 square miles of which nearly nine percent is water.
As the Sullivans know, there are four main beaches in Venice and many people live within a short walk of one. The Municipal beach is probably the most popular, but there is also Nokomis Beach (of drum circle fame) and South Brohard Beach which stretches over 22 acres and has a dog park. Visitors to Venice who are on the hunt for shark teeth should head for Caspersen Beach, which is the longest beach in Sarasota County. This water-loving city also features a long municipal pier where you can fish 24 hours a day with no license requirement. Many people night fish for shark.
The Sullivans love their waterfront location but say they are at a time in life when they want a smaller house in a neighborhood close to downtown where they can walk to everything they need. We are actually moving back to the neighborhood where we had a home before, said Sullivan. Well be able to take our two-mile walk every day around the island and also be close to restaurants and shopping and to a beach. We have a little grandson who is four and spends two hours with us each morning before he goes off to pre-school and we think hell like the new house just fine.
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