The Forest Launches New YouTube Channel

There is a new way to preview The Forest with videos online. A new YouTube Channel has just been launched for The Forest. It includes four videos that provide an excellent overview and insight into Sarasota’s exclusive gated estate master planned community:

  • The Forest Overview – Watch beautiful aerial footage for a bird’s eye view of the property and much more
  • Meet Tom Dabney – Interview with the Developer of The Forest
  • Meet Brian Wood – A preview of the Land Rover Tour opportunity with Sotheby’s exclusive representative for The Forest
  • Why The Forest – An interview up close and personal with residents on why they chose The Forest

Visit The Forest YouTube Channel and watch the videos. Subscribe to the Channel for notices whenever a new video is uploaded. It’s the next best thing to being at this beautiful Florida community for a live tour.

Benderson Park Near The Forest Makes Bid For Global Rowing Event


Benderson Park Rowing site progress photo sarasota floridaResidents of The Forest at Hi Hat Ranch may soon look forward to seeing one of the world’s most preeminent rowing events take place a quick 25 minute drive away. The Nathan Benderson Park has been a major site of local and regional rowing competitions for the past few years but the scope of this facility has recently been given a two million dollar infusion for improvements. In the past year, the site has improved its course length to meet international standards, a state of the art boat house is under construction and Manatee County is carefully considering an additional five million dollar investment in a bid to attract hotels, restaurants and additional park improvements.

While the park is currently closed to the visiting public there are plans for a number of exciting opportunities for both youth and adult aquatic sports at the start of 2014. In addition to an on-site youth rowing program there will also be private lessons and masters rowing programs available from young adults to senior citizens. The Park will also be home to numerous other paddle sport competitions, from dragon boats to canoe and kayak races, as well as triathlon and cross country events. To top off this exciting list of activities Nathan Benderson Park also features a dedicated group of local volunteers that assist during the fast paced rowing regattas. Volunteers can choose to help with water activities, land based coordination or assisting with parking. Open to most age groups, this volunteer program run by John Krotec provides a vital resource to the park in addition to an excellent source of community outreach. The Park is located immediately adjacent to University Town Center – Southwest Florida’s premier shopping, dining and entertainment destination, also slated to open in early 2014. In just a short year’s time this area is likely to become a destination spot for both Manatee/Sarasota County residents in addition to tourists from around the world.

The upshot of these exciting announcements has culminated with the Sarasota County Commissioners amending their tourism promotion budget to include a bid for the 2017 World Rowing Championships. In conjunction with Sarasota County, Manatee county will contribute funds to have Nathan Benderson Park host this exciting event, which is the biggest rowing event in the world outside of the Olympics. An international panel in Switzerland will decide the host of the 2017 World Championships on May 31st. Should Sarasota/Manatee Counties successfully win their bid a massive influx of both national and international tourism income is expected. You can learn more about the Nathan Benderson Park at the website. For more news on these exciting developments about the potential Global Rowing event see the recent story in the Bradenton Times.

Stay tuned to our blog for more updates on this exciting new addition to life around The Forest at Hi Hat Ranch.


Forest Home Sale Tops $1.5 Million


The Forest continues to see strong interest and price appreciation with the most recent home sale topping the $1.5 million mark. This comes on the heels of the five homesites we sold over the last three months.

I represented the seller for Premier Sotheby’s International Realty in the sale of this $1.55 million home in The Forest at 9399 Swaying Branch Road. This transaction, which closed on February 25, represents one of the largest residential sales since the inception of the community in 2006.

The country estate home is situated on more than three acres on one of the most forested and beautiful lots within the gated community. Comprised of more 9399-SwayingBranchRd-TheForestthan 5,700 square feet, the residence was one of the few existing homes of its size and quality on the market in The Forest. A certified green home, the estate home features closed cell foam insulation, high-efficiency air conditioning, and impact glass throughout.

The season so far has been very exciting in Sarasota and there has been a surge of interest in The Forest. Buyers currently shopping in the market are discovering there are very few homes available within the existing home inventory. The good news for buyers is there are excellent opportunities to build a brand new home and the costs are about the same per square foot as the prices for resale properties. Plus, they get the added advantages that come with new construction like exactly the floor plan they want with all the options, latest green/energy-efficient innovations and a builder warranty.

Buyers trying to find 3-acre or larger homesites in a high quality gated master planned community also end up pretty quickly at The Forest. There really aren’t a lot of choices in this category around Sarasota.

The Forest offers a variety of homes from 2,800 square feet on estate-size homesites. Prices currently range from the upper $600s. We have just added a new feature home from John Neal to the website and our other builders have new plans in the queue.  If you have not been to The Forest, or it’s been a while since your last visit, get in touch with me for a private tour. There is a lot that’s new in The Forest and along the Sarasota/Manatee I-75 corridor. It would be my pleasure to show you around The Forest at Hi Hat Ranch.

Brian Wood



The Forest Is Newest Chapter Of Saraota’s Hi Hat Ranch History

Forest at Hi Hat Ranch Main Entry SignThe Hi Hat Ranch has a big place in Sarasota’s history. At one time it was the area’s largest private land holding in the county after Herman Turner assembled three large parcels in the mid 1940s. It encompassed one-eighth of Sarasota County at that time. A Sarasota Herald Tribune article from those days called the Turner Ranch “one of the most remarkable pieces of property in the state.”

An article by Mark Smith in a 1998 issue of the Sarasota Herald Tribune gives an interesting brief insight into the rich history of the Ranch.  It’s worth a quick read to get a better understanding of the significance of this property in the history of Sarasota.

The Turner family still owns and operates the Hi Hat Ranch. Most of its 10,000+ acres remain a real working ranch with active cattle and other agricultural operations. But there is a new chapter unfolding on the Hi Hat Ranch. As the county began to grow to the east after the turn of the 21st century, the family made the decision to do a master plan for a residential community on part of this vast property. The Forest at Hi Hat Ranch is the first neighborhood being developed as part of that plan. It is being managed with the same careful stewardship the family has followed for almost 70 years.

“It’s only natural I guess that we take a little different approach to development,” says Rick Turner who manages the Ranch. “When your family name has been on a property for generations there’s a lot of respect for the land. This is a special place and our goal is to make The Forest a showcase as we introduce residential development on the property.”

The family has succeeded in that goal. The Forest combines one of the most beautiful areas of the Hi Hat Ranch in a low-impact neighborhood of three to five-acre parcels. Development regulations require the builders to take a balanced approach to home building with minimal disruption to native trees and vegetation.

“We want the new families that move here to feel that same sense of pride and ownership for the land,” says Rick’s cousin Jim Turner, who is also part of the management team for the Ranch. “The Forest will set the stage for years to come and it is important to our family that we put our best foot forward. I think that becomes instantly apparent the moment you arrive at The Forest.”

The Turners selected Premier Sotheby’s Realty for sales representation. Representative Brian Wood provides property tours by appointment and can be reached via email at or by calling 941-928-8408.