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The small home on Bonita Beach was nestled among towering trees, barely visible from the road or the beach. Built in 1962, it was one of the oldest homes around; a quaint little cottage with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and 1,244 square feet of space. Matching yellow quilts adorned the beds in the guest room. Wicker furniture with thick floral cushions filled the living room. A wide porch overlooked the Gulf. Bonita Springs Homes for sale
Now this home is gone. This month a bulldozer crushed the home into splinters and dump trucks carted the debris away. It’s a scene that is becoming more and more common along Bonita Beach where the small homes are slowly disappearing and larger and larger ones are taking their place.
This home was unusual not just for its age and quaintness, but for the property. The home at 26850 Hickory Blvd. had 100 feet of property on Bonita Beach. The property is legally divided into two 50-foot beach lots. The two contiguous lots are in the middle of Hickory Island, in a wider section of beach that has never needed renourishment. It is also not close to the public beach accesses. All those features helped it sell in March for $4,074,000. That seems like a lot of money for a home that was torn down. But empty lots on that beach are now selling for $2 million and the mansions being built there for $5 million. Since this house was on two lots, that could be $10 million in homes.
“All the old houses eventually, in the next 8-10 years, will be all gone and Bonita Beach will be nothing but a wall of three-story beautiful homes,” said Robert Jensen, listing and selling agent for Bay Point/Bluebill Realty, who sold the home in March. “It has to do with the growing wealth of Americans and their desire to live right on the beach in Southwest Florida.”
“Compared to living right on the beach in Barefoot or Vanderbilt or Parkshore, Bonita Beach is a bargain,” he said. “The two lots that I sold with the house on it were the first to sell for more than $2 million for 50 feet.”
The value of this piece of paradise has greatly fluxuated over the years. The first time it sold was in June of 1995 as a mother-to-son transfer for $275,000. It sold again in April 2001 for $3.2 million.
“In 2005 the owner turned down a $6 million cash offer,” Jensen said. “In 2010 he wanted to sell it, and I told him he couldn’t get the $6 million, so we put it on for $4.2 million. It took from 2006 until 2015 to get back to $4 million. That’s the game the speculators have. That’s the roller coaster that they ride.”
There’s also the high cost of living on Bonita Beach Waterfront. At one time the taxes on that little house were $55,000. The 2014 tax assessment shows taxes for that house at $34,033. Then there is the high cost of insurance for living less than 100 feet from the Gulf.
Denny Grimes, president of Denny Grimes & Co. Inc., expects to see a lot more tear-downs in the future due to those high costs.
“I can give you my opinion as to what will happen over time and that will be the cottages will all be replaced,” Grimes said. “It’s not only about highest and best use, but practicality. Cottages are most likely not at proper base flood elevation nor built to current building codes. I believe the cost of insurance or the lack of coverage will extinct the charming cottages.”
“Another irony, the government likes to restrict development to protect the natural environment, yet they create rules that cause our historic and charming structures to be destroyed,” Grimes concluded.
Jensen said it wasn’t taxes or insurance that prompted the owners of the little cottage to sell.
“The owner had bought it for the kids and grandkids, but after a few years the kids and grandkids never came down,” Jensen said. “So they just sold it because it was just one thing they never used. All the beachfront houses — they are all third and fourth and fifth homes for people. It’s not a second home. It’s a third, fourth or fifth.”
After a while many homeowners realize they don’t use the house enough to justify the high taxes. Taxes run up to $60,000 to $70,000 a year on the big Bonita Beach homes. Even the smallest cottages are costing more than $30,000 a year in taxes.
“It is a great spot if you are going to use it, but what happens is you go up and down the beach most of these houses are never used,” Jensen explained. “So after a while the cost of the taxes are not worth it and that’s why they sell.”
“The only way to get the highest and best use out of it is to develop it,” he continued. “Buy it for $2 million and put a house on it and sell it for $5.4 million, and you are making more money than the owner that has held that land all these years. You have to consider all the old houses as tear-downs.” Courtesy of News-Press.
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