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Mar 15

North Trail's Bayou Oaks Neighborhood Featured

Posted by: ntadmin

The Next Hot Neighborhoods

Five under-the-radar places that are ready to rise.

By Robert Plunket  3/1/2018 at 10:08am  Published in the March 2018 issue of Sarasota Magazine

Bayou Oaks

Every town needs a neighborhood like Bayou Oaks. It’s artsy, cheap, diverse and eccentric. The demographic is working class, but it’s also full of professors, artists and college students sharing rented homes. And it’s immensely helped by its namesake trees. Many of the streets have a canopy of towering oaks, giving them an Old Florida look as authentic as any place in town.

One of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, Bayou Oaks didn’t even have a name until 20 years ago. It was just that somewhat scruffy part of town that ran from Ringling College up to the dog track. On paper it didn’t look so good. Income and housing were below average; crime was above. Many fastidious homebuyers would take one look and dismiss it.

But concerned residents and a certain tenacity have turned things around. A giant radio tower (“as big as the Eiffel Tower,” says one resident) was blocked, and that led to other improvements. Old Bradenton Road was enhanced by a good-looking median, and the neighborhood’s convenient location began to draw new residents.

With more than 1,300 homes, Bayou Oaks has a wide variety of housing choices. There are even some World War II army barracks, converted into pleasant rental apartments. Noted architect Carl Abbott lives in one of the most unusual homes—a Spanish-style residence that dates back to the Ringling era—and has long been one of the area’s boosters. “It doesn’t feel urban,” he marvels. “It’s full of native plants but nothing formal or manicured. It reminds me of where I grew up in south Georgia.”

Your housing dollar will go a long way in Bayou Oaks. There’s a nice newer cottage at 1344 40th St. that’s priced at $349,900. It has many premium features and an attractive lot that borders Whitaker Bayou. Most homes will be considerably less, and it’s easy to find something under $200,000. Check out the two-bedroom 1960s-era cottage at 1177 38th St. The current owner is an architect who gutted the interior and replaced everything with state-of-the-art mechanicals and tasteful modern design. The price? $185,000.

Bayou Oaks is sandwiched between the town’s two leading colleges, New College to the north and Ringling College of Art and Design to the south. That means you’ll be in the heart of intellectual Sarasota. So it’s only appropriate to find certain blocks a little gritty and unpolished. College students—and professors—have to live somewhere. But if you have a creative spirit, the atmosphere becomes a plus. There are some beautiful one-of-a-kind homes tucked away here and there, all under the shelter of the towering oaks.