Commentary: It takes fortitude to live in the ‘war zones’ scattered around Siesta Key

Smaller homes continue to be demolished to make way for far bigger ones

Harriet Cuthbert. Contributed photo

I do not know about you and where you live, but I am positive my beautiful, well-established, upper middle-class neighborhood has turned into a war zone.

Older houses (built in the 1970s) have been torn down to make way for mega structures that really belong on Casey Key or Malibu Beach. Two such houses, side-by-side, have been going up simultaneously near me. They have been competing for attention and spurring astonishment among my neighbors and me.

What I am wondering is how the inhabitants will sustain living next door to each other with only 20 feet separating them. That is the actual distance; I measured it.

The number of cars and trucks camped out every day in front of these monoliths is truly mind-boggling. Both houses are being constructed by well-known builders, and both have owners who planned the houses with high-end architects, I have learned.

The owners’ boats docked on the canal are a nice addition to the community, too, along with the enormous pools and second-floor balconies that are features of the designs.

But, let us move on — to my direct portion of the neighborhood — and the source of the noise we have been experiencing. Another house is going up. It is across the street from mine, and the cement mixer actually making the huge “bricks” for it emits sounds reminiscent of a military invasion. Should we call these houses “the enemy”? I feel sure the cacophony has much in common with the blasts of bombs dropping close by, but, luckily, these “house-making” noises have no significant harm associated with them — at least in terms of life and death.

A mega mansion was underway at 645 Beach Road in June 2017. This is not in the writer’s neighborhood. Rachel Hackney photo

Last week the small house right next door to mine was bulldozed to make room for yet another mega dwelling. This one will be a two-story, five-bedroom, multi-balcony Key West-style house with nothing to look out onto except for our street and a few old trees in the back. And, of course, a new pool and spa will be built to accompany the mansion.

The bulldozing took a total of four days, and the vibrations from the huge CAT trucks smashing into the walls actually made my house shake. That situation reminded me of the howling winds Hurricane Irma produced.

Would I survive this disaster? I wondered. Would my house and new roof remain standing? I cannot count how many times I went running down my driveway to gaze upon the demolition activities.

I also have to say that watching those big CAT trucks lift the enormous concrete slabs onto a huge dump truck was a very scary experience. As long as I stayed on terra firma, I felt confident I could get through the process.

Additionally, I observed how quickly the workers filled in the old pool with chunks of the house and then transferred all of that material into the big dump truck.

Watching houses being demolished and rebuilt has become a new tourist attraction on Siesta Key.

I am relieved that the worst is over next door. Now all I have to worry about is when they will bring back the cement mixer. At least, I have learned not to let that terrify me.

5 thoughts on “Commentary: It takes fortitude to live in the ‘war zones’ scattered around Siesta Key

  1. WHAT!? That house is no home. It looks like a high rise condo complex? It also looks to be well over the 35′ in height permitted in residential area?
    HOW did this happen? We have an outstanding Zoning Administrator and I trust this was reviewed before permitting;.so its legal?
    Sad to look at; so sorry Harriet.

    • The house in the photograph is not in the writer’s neighborhood. The photo was used an illustration of the new large houses going up on Siesta Key. We apologize for the confusion.

  2. But there is a maximum impervious surface coverage limit of 50% on residential lots yet these mega homes seems to cover more than 50%. The county denies it but I believe they allow these homes to exceed limits.

  3. Better hope the new home being built will actual be used by the owner and who hopefully will be a residence rather than used as a rental unit. Check out 547 and 552 Beach Road for my example of a new home that sleeps 24 and can come with up to 8 vehicles each weekend and includes an three balconies and a pool with multiple trash pickups. All legal and permitted — Jean Cannon

  4. Many of us on Siesta Key can empathize with Harriett. If you have sailed around the north end of Siesta Key you have seen the enormous Guy Peterson design “home” in its third year of construction on Gulf Mead. It blocks the sunsets and views of its neighbors to the east across Bayou Louise. It replaced Marion Storm’s 1950’s home and is directly across from our family home (which was one of the Higel Ave. fishing cottages). I have photos but I don’t know how to post one here.
    Amy Ferrell

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