It’s been a windy November, and this is just a reminder of how much windier it can be in years that we are more affected by tropical storms and hurricanes. It brings up the question of how hurricane-proof our houses are here. Anyone in the market for a house on Anna Maria Island should certainly pay close attention to the quality of the construction, starting with the roof.
Anna Maria Island has been very lucky this 2009 hurricane season, as has the entire Atlantic region of the United States. Unlike some recent years, in which life on the island was interrupted frequently by approaching hurricanes, this year, it has been possible to almost forget these great storms are part of life here. By the middle of November, the only storm that came nearby was Hurricane Ida, which passed by with less interest than we’ve paid to any of the previous storms, such as Hurricane Bill in the Atlantic, earlier in the year.
Anna Maria in September is usually one of the quietest months of the year, in terms of entertainment and special events. At this time of year much of our entertainment comes from watching the flowers grow, and watching the birds watching the fish.
That’s because, in terms of weather, it is likely to be one of the most active months of the year. It is the peak of hurricane season. It’s still very hot and humid and buggy. It’s likely to be very rainy because the sea breezes from Florida’s east coast and west coast tend to collide along our shoreline at this time of year. The result is turbulence: thunder and lightning. Floridians who want to discourage repeat houseguests have learned to invite them in the month of September. Often, the weather will take care of the rest and those guests will not ever come back.
October is the month in which we finally get some relief from the heat. As the temperatures drop, and the threat of storms lessens, the island starts to come outside to celebrate the joys of life here. One of the first celebrations of the season is Bayfest, on Pine Avenue in Anna Maria. Now in its ninth year, Bayfest will be held this 2009 on the weekend of October 16. On Friday night, the kick-off party will feature live music by Bootleg from 7 to 10, with DJ Mike Sales.
It has been a difficult few years for anyone wanting to sell a home on Anna Maria Island. Having been part of Florida’s spectacular growth, prices on island homes had risen tremendously since the 1990’s, and therefore were subject to the same kind of fall that all popular markets experienced starting a little over three years ago. But at least there always is something about a beautiful island that sets its properties apart from the larger inventories on the mainland. There is only a finite number of island homes, and people will always want to live on an island. So there is reason to believe properties on Anna Maria will be in demand again sooner than the general market.
The question is whether the nation is beginning to see a general upturn in housing sales and prices yet. There have been articles in highly regarded publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, indicating this may be the case. In a recent article in the Anna Maria Island Sun, Louise Bolger points out that Maureen Maitland, vice president for index services at Standard & Poor’s, has speculated that we may look back on April, 2009, as the trough in home prices.
Speaking of speculation, that would mean this could be a very good time to buy an investment home in Anna Maria Island … if you can afford the high property taxes. At least there is the possibility of covering some of those taxes and carrying costs through rental. And rumor has it that if the house has a swimming pool, it is much easier to rent. Of course this all is speculation, and speculation is largely responsible for the bubble and its bursting that put the market where it is today.
Many wonderful places are surrounded by not-so-wonderful places. Often these wonderful places have been preserved, and protected from development, but the development has sprawled all around them. Eventually the small preserved spots can start to feel more like museum exhibits than like places where real life takes place. They are isolated. It may be fun to visit such places, but in my opinion it would not be enjoyable to live in them.
Sometimes things happen in the opposite way. It’s the new development that is nice compared to the older surroundings. This is how it is when an upscale gated community is developed in an area that was previously undesirable. All is fine inside the gates, but outside there is not much of appeal.
Anna Maria Island is a gem of a place, and it is surrounded by a wide variety of other kinds of places, all of which are appealing. This is one of the island’s greatest assets in terms of being a wonderful place to live. Not only is the island a remarkably small scale, natural Old Florida area, but it also offers its residents easy access to many other kinds of places. This makes life here more interesting and colorful. Within a short distance, the variety of surroundings and activities is remarkable.
To the south, Longboat Key is one of the wealthiest communities in the nation. The professional landscaping is reason enough to occasionally take a drive or trolley ride down Longboat. At the top of Longboat Key is the historical village where peacocks have roamed freely for years, and where the art center is now a part of the Ringling School of Art and Design.
“Old Florida” is a term people love to use when describing a place that has not been taken over by the development trends of the day. It has been a favorite way to describe Anna Maria Island for many years … both by residents and visitors who truly love the simple charms of the area. It’s also a favorite term of those whose main interest is selling the island to the public. “Old Florida ” is a great marketing slogan.
Unfortunately, even among those who think they love the Old Florida feeling of a place, it is challenging to know how to identify the details that give that feeling. And it’s even more challenging to protect them. Often the details that need to be protected do not sound very glamorous. But getting rid of things that are not glamorous is a sure way to destroy the sense of history and simplicity that are so much a part of Old Florida.
Who wants to argue that an old shack should not be torn down? Especially among those whose main priority is marketing. Who wants to argue against “beautification?” Or replacing an old bridge with a big modern bridge? Or getting rid of invasive, exotic plant species?