Drive into The Lakes from either of the two entrances on McIntosh Road just south of Bahia Vista Street, and you’re immediately transported into an enchanting place. Everywhere you look, there are live oaks with Spanish Moss wafting in the breeze, tall palm trees and ample shrubbery. Some stretches of the canopied roads are almost tunnels of greenery. It feels like you’re driving through a forest.
All the homes in The Lakes are tucked away, nestled in thick foliage, adding to the community’s allure.
There are five interior lakes, one quite large, with a walking path along its northwest shore; another with a sparkling water fountain in the center. A wooded easement and nature preserve separate The Lakes from the Sarasota Springs neighborhood to the south. Another greenbelt runs along Phillippi Creek, which marks the northwestern boundary.
“It’s such a lush, verdant community with a lovely ambiance,” said Ray Collins, a realtor with Coldwell Banker. “It’s a beautiful, peaceful place, full of friendly people.”
The Lakes was developed in two stages. First came 43 villas, built from 1983 to 1985, in the northern section of the neighborhood, also known as “Lakes of Sarasota.” Ranging in size from 1,000 to 1,500 square feet, they feature 2- and 3-bedrooms in open designs and tall living room ceilings. Some are two-stories high, with bedrooms on the second floor. All villas have a one-car garage and a car port.
Collins’ listing, for example, at 1233 Cottonwood Trail, is a 2-bed, 2-bath, single-story villa with a cathedral ceiling in the living room, and a screened in porch that runs the length of the house in back.
“It looks cozy like a cottage, a cabin in the woods, a ski chalet,” said Collins. “Inside, there is a wood burning fireplace, French doors, and brand-new wooden floors and kitchen appliances. It’s move-in ready.” He adds, “I’ve never had such excitement over a listing.”
Homeowners association fees of $480 a month covers lawn and ground maintenance, insurance, exterior maintenance including the barrel tile roofs, and upkeep of all common areas and amenities.
The rest of the community, Lakes Estates (also referred to as “Timberlake” in some documents), consists of 190 single-family residences. The homes feature three to five bedrooms, with living space from around 1,900 to over 4,400 square feet. Lot sizes start at just under 9,000 square feet and top out at around three-quarters of an acre. Dwelling on the lakes and backing up to greenbelts command the highest prices.
Constructed from 1985 to 1990, the houses come in a variety of architectural designs – Spanish Mediterranean, Florida ranch, Key West, and two-story, estate mansions with curved double stairs leading to up to the front entrance. All homes feature a two-car garage at a minimum.
HOA fees are lower than for the villas – a little more than $100 a month – because exterior maintenance is included.
“There is a nice, wide range of property options for buyers,” said Collins.
The Lakes’ demographics are a cross section of retirees, including some original homeowners, working professionals and families with children. “When I go into the neighborhood, I see kids playing and older couples out for a walk,” said Collins.
Residents enjoy the amenities, which include two community swimming pools, a clubhouse, a fitness center, two tennis courts, a basketball court and a children’s playground.
The Lakes Estates section of the community is very kid-friendly. Parents appreciate that Brentwood Elementary and McIntosh Middle School are both less than a mile away. The other district school is Sarasota High.
Another big attraction is The Lakes’ convenient, central location. Downtown Sarasota and the Interstate are mere 10-minute drive. Nearby stores and Amish restaurants – Yoder’s and Der Dutchman in the Pinecraft neighborhood – and shopping and other eateries on Fruitville and Cattlemen roads make for easy outings. UTC and the Gulf beaches are within easy driving distance as well.
Historically, The Lakes has been a stable neighborhood, with a number of residents choosing to stay, up- or downsizing to different properties as needed.
Currently, there are three villas on the market in The Lakes, ranging in price from $236,000 to $260,000 (Collin’s listing). In addition, two single-family residences are for sale, priced at $379,900 and $599,000.