Clark Road & I-75 Interchange Renovation Planned

A Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI) is planned for construction at Clark Road and I-75.  For residents of The Forest this means easier access on and off the Interstate, a much more convenient method of accessing the shops, services and employment centers located west of I-75, and a safer, more efficient commute through the interchange.

The Forest residents already enjoys a beautiful five mile drive on Clark Road toward the interstate, free of traffic signals which add several minutes commute time to the interstate from communities east of I-75 on Fruitville Road and University Parkway.  The FDOT claims that DDIs are proven cost effective, efficient, and safe.  According to FTOD, due to it’s innovative design, drivers entering and exiting the interstate via a DDI do not need to cross the highway when making a left turn, thus reducing the number of traffic signals and increasing traffic flow efficiency.  Furthermore, studies of existing Diverging Diamond Interchanges have proven that DDI’s reduce crash rates by nearly 50% and crash severity is significantly reduced in most cases.

The first DDI in the area is now open at University Parkway and I-75 and appears to have greatly improved conditions at this busy interchange.  It can be confusing the first time through but navigating the DDI is actually quit easy.

The Clark Road DDI is one of several others planned for Sarasota and Manatee Counties.  Learn more about the project and see a video simulation of how DDIs work.

Hi Hat Ranch Featured On ABC World News Tonight

Rick Turn Hi Hat Ranch ABC World News Video ClipThe Forest at Hi Hat Ranch is surrounded by the Suncoast’s biggest private land holding and one of the largest active working ranches in Southwest Florida.  Beyond the beautiful forested community and impressive estate homes lies a productive ranch that has been managed under the stewardship of the Turner family for nearly a century.

The Forest is just the latest chapter in a rich history of activity on the Hi Hat Ranch.  Today, this historic property raises cattle and has vast agricultural operations on its 10,000 acres.

Recently, ABC World News Tonight with David Muir ran a story on another historic Suncoast concern – Tropicana.  The feature profiled Tropicana founder Anthony Rossi and how he invented the modern orange juice industry.  The Hi Hat Ranch, and family member and ranch manager Rick Turner, were also featured in the story since the ranch produces oranges for Tropicana.

Watch the story (after a brief commercial intro by ABC News).  Learn more about the Turner family’s stewardship of Hi Hat Ranch in these short video interviews with Rick Turner and family member and ranch partner Jim Turner.

To learn more about living in The Forest at Hi Hat Ranch, contact our exclusive Premier Sotheby’s agent Brian Wood for a private tour of the community.

Watch The Forest Lifestyle Video

The Forest At Hi Hat Ranch Lifestyle Video

Thumbnail link to The Forest Hi Hat Ranch VideoIn many ways, there is no better way (short of living in one of the 54 residences) to experience The Forest at Hi Hat Ranch than in a video with aerial views.  The extensive forested natural preservation areas and large estate homesites make if difficult to see the grand estate homes and setting from the street.

This new Lifestyle Video takes you above and through the community and a whole lot more.  There are beautiful aerial views and also insights into the lifestyle that is unique to Sarasota’s only gated master planned community devoted exclusively to large acreage lots and estate homes.

Watch it now to learn more about this amazing place at Sarasota’s historic privately held ranch.  Then contact us to tour a home.  There is nothing quite like it.

Recent Home Sale Sets New Bar At The Forest

The recent sale of the original Arthur Rutenberg Homes’ model in The Forest has set a new bar for property values.

Arthur Rutenberg Former Model The ForestThe former model sold for $3.2 million within a month of listing.  It resets the top selling price for homes in Sarasota’s only master planned gated community exclusively designed for custom estate homes on acreage homesite.

“I am very pleased for our community and our property owners in The Forest,” said managing partner Tom Dabney.  “Property values have been on the rise in The Forest as we continue to sell the original homesites and more homes become occupied.  We’ve had seven homesite sales this year and there is a lot of momentum.”

According to Brian Wood, The Forest Premier Sotheby’s International Realty agent, there are now only 15 of the original developer homesites remaining.  He said several who purchased homesites this year are now moving through the builder selection process and preparing to start their homes.

“The Forest is fast becoming one of the few places where buyers have a wide choice of custom builders to choose from as larger building companies have been purchasing big blocks of lots in other east county custom home communities,” said Wood. “This is the place for anyone looking to have true separation from adjacent homes in a neighborhood where there is a no repeat rule and multiple builders.”

According to Wood, existing homes don’t come on the market often in The Forest.  “But the remaining developer homesites include a great selection and there are five of Sarasota’s best custom builders available to choose from including Anchor Builders, John Cannon Homes, Neal Signature Homes, Todd Johnston Homes and Arthur Rutenburg Homes.”

“This is truly a custom home community where all homes are uniquely designed on large homesites of three or more acres,” said Dabney.  “Our best amenity is privacy with the peace and quiet that just can’t be found elsewhere in other Sarasota new home gated communities.”

Distances From East Sarasota & Manatee Communities

The Forest is closer than you think.  Comparing distances to key locations from the four most popular gated communities east of I-75 in Sarasota and Manatee Counties is telling.  The chart below shows distances using Google Maps.

Distances Map To Locations East of I-75

All the communities are relatively similar overall.  But, The Forest is closest to the beach and the only community with no stop lights between it and I-75.  See the custom Google Map for more comparisons.  Better yet, take the lovely drive 5.5 miles east of the interstate on Clark Road and see how close The Forest really is…while still being worlds away from the hustle and bustle.

Sarasota’s Top 20 Fastest Growing Status Puts Premium On Privacy

Aerial photo Typical Sarasota FL Estate NeighborhoodIf you have been driving around over the peak season in Sarasota and Manatee counties announcement this week the area is one of the top 20 fastest growing in the nation comes as no surprise.  Being number 11 on the census list for population increase means a robust local economy and improving financial quality of life.  But the downside is more congestion on the streets and highways, and more new communities with bigger houses on smaller lots and less privacy.

“I hear it everyday from people looking for a new neighborhood with a premium on peace and quiet where privacy and open space are the most important amenities,” said Premier Sotheby’s International Realty agent Brian Wood.  “People looking for a true estate home site neighborhood discover quickly how limited the opportunities are here in Sarasota.”

Aerial photo The Forest Sarasota FL Estate NeighborhoodWood is the developer’s exclusive representative at The Forest and has specialized in custom homes east of I-75 for years.  He has seen the trend of homes continuing to get bigger while lots in gated communities get smaller.  He says the supply of home sites is very low, particularly in natural wooded settings with acreage sizes.

“The Forest lives up to its name and people see that instantly when they tour the community,” said Wood.  “It’s easy to understand why so many of our resident mention privacy and peace and quiet (see resident interviews on The Forest YouTube Channel) as one of the best features of the community.”

Tom Dabney, Development Manager for the Hi Hat Ranch and Turner family member, says they saw it coming.  “We took one of the best spots on our 10,000-acre historic ranch and carved out Sarasota’s only true master planned gated community exclusively for custom homes on acreage estates.”

Wood says interest in the three to five acre sites at The Forest has been strong so far this year.  Several sales are pending and inventory of the final remaining homes sites is limited.  He says buyers are also combining home sites for even larger estate parcels.

“There is still an excellent selection of home sites to choose from but this is the only neighborhood of its kind planned on the Hi Hat Ranch,” said Dabney.  “You can drive several miles further east of the interstate to find acreage lots, however those will be in rural settings instead of a real master planned community.”

A new preview has been set up on home site 54 (see the community site plan) with a pathway cut through the trees to a 100-acres preserve abutting the rear property line.  Wood said anyone interested in The Forest should definitely take the tour with him to experience this view first hand.

“I love the reaction from visitors to The Forest who have been touring other “estate” neighborhoods in this area,” said Wood.  “When they get back into this area on home site 54 they understand what our residents already know – there is no place like this place.”

Sarasota’s Largest Homesites Mean Better Lifestyle And Value

brian wood sotheby's agent at the forest hi hat ranchFinding acreage estate sized home sites is a challenge in Sarasota. Finding one with old growth trees in a premier private gated community is even harder. I hear these comments often when touring visitors around The Forest. Most have been through the other “estate” neighborhoods in the area and are surprised to learn there is a place that offers a true estate opportunity. And when they compare the cost of land on home sites the value becomes evident quickly.

We recently photographed one of the custom estate homes just coming on the market in The Forest. The photos really do this property, and the community, justice demonstrating the beautiful setting as well as incredible privacy that is just not available in other planned communities east of I-75.

Aerial view 9381 Swaying Branch Road The Forest SarasotaThe photo on the left shows how our builders at The Forest situate the homes preserving the trees and providing owners with real separation from neighboring estates. With home sites of three acres or more, there is ample room for a custom estate home such as this one at 9381 Swaying Branch Road. It is over 3,000 square feet situated on a 3.5 acre home site.

Our average home site is about 4 acres and average price is just $195,000.  Compare that to other “estate” neighborhoods with half acre lots upwards of $200,000!  Factor in high CDD fees and club dues at those places and The Forest offers a better lifestyle and value alternative.

Acreage home sites also allow our owners the space to build guest houses and other secondary structures, and their own amenities like tennis, pickleball or bacce ball courts.  One buyer recently combined two home sites for an even bigger estate parcel and built an Arthur Rutenberg home plus a large custom outbuilding.

See more photos of this incredible home below.  Then, contact me for more information and to schedule a private tour.  One visit and it’s easy to see why The Forest is the area’s best estate home neighborhood in Sarasota.

Brian Wood
Exclusive Agent at The Forest
Premier Sotheby's Logo


9381-Swaying-Branch-Front_Forest-SarasotaLiving room 9381 Swaying Branch The Forest Sarasota








Florida Tops New Study Best Retirement States

Forest Retirees Chet & Abby Helck has just published a report ranking the best states to retire in and Florida tops the list.  That will be no surprise to many retirees already living the good life here in Sarasota and particularly at The Forest.  The WalletHub study ranked states on three primary criteria: Affordability, Quality of Life and Health Care.  The report recommends that people:

“consider relocating to a retirement-friendly state — one that will let you keep more money in your pocket without drastically modifying your lifestyle.”

Several of the residents at The Forest have shared comments in video interviews about their decision to move here.  Their reasons are consistent with the WalletHub findings.

First, it is hard to match the value in The Forest, as interviewees have frequently mentioned.  There are just few places that offer real estates with acreage lots and custom homes at the prices available here.

Sarasota is already recognized as one of the best places to live in Florida.  The Forest is an alternative though to the in-town congestion with a lush forested setting that lives up to its name.  Residents often mention the quality of life that includes privacy and peace and quiet.  The location offers easy access to I-75 and all the most popular amenities of Sarasota.  Like other neighborhoods in Sarasota, many retirees in The Forest are very much active adults and often still have an “iron in the fire” with active business interests. The convenience of the interstate and close airports in Sarasota and Tampa make business and pleasure travel easy.

Sarasota has excellent medical facilities and services.  The Forest is just minutes from Doctors Hospital where full service medical and many top area healthcare provides can be found.  Several physicians actually call The Forest home as well including Dr. Scott and his wife Marcia who recently moved from Siesta Key.  Hear their story about discovering The Forest, and those of many other residents, on the Forest YouTube Channel.

Meet Chet & Abby Helck Residents At The Forest Sarasota

Chuck & Abby Helck Video Interview The ForestLearn why residents Chet and Abby Helck decided to move from Tierra Verde Island in St. Petersburg to The Forest.  They share their story and reasons for buying their home at Sarasota’s only gated master planned community designed exclusively for large acreage sites and custom estate homes.

“Finding a place that was peaceful and private, giving us the ability to lower our blood pressure and reacquaint ourselves with ourselves…”  Chet Helck

Watch their short video interview now.

See more resident video interviews on The Forest YouTube Channel.  Then plan a visit to discover Sarasota’s premier gated community exclusively designed for large acreage home sites and custom estate homes.


Dr. Scott & Marcia Corbett Residents At The Forest Sarasota

Dr. Scott & Marcia Corbett Video The ForestScott and Marcia Corbett recently made the decision to move from their Siesta Key, Fl house of several years to a new estate home in The Forest.  Watch this short video interview as they share their story about finding The Forest and making the move to Sarasota’s premier estate home community.  Scott is one of several doctors who have moved from coastal Sarasota areas.  Learn more about why the Corbett’s and others are choosing the quieter peaceful lifestyle at The Forest.

See more resident video interviews on The Forest YouTube Channel.  Then plan a visit to discover Sarasota’s premier gated community exclusively designed for large acreage home sites and custom estate homes.