Coming through in the clutch

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Russell & Russell Construction steps in to bring a big, bold waterfront beauty to life as the company targets Siesta Key

By Jane Bartnett

Mark Russell, a general contractor who brings more than 30 years of construction and fine carpentry experience to his Russell & Russell construction clients, is responsible for creating residential and commercial projects throughout Florida and in his native Rochester, New York.
On Siesta Key, he’s finding a particular delight in overseeing the completion of a luxury four-story, four-unit beachfront condominium at 84 Avenida Veneccia – near the Village.

Designed by the celebrated DSDG Architects of Sarasota, construction is expected to be completed this summer. The poured-concrete structure includes one townhouse and three one-story dwellings. All were purchased pre-construction in 2021.
Although the project is currently Russell’s only one on Siesta Key, his hope is that it will be the first of many.
In fact, Russell is planning to make the Siesta Key area his new home this summer.
Russell & Russell took over the Siesta Key project in June 2022 from another builder. Once completed, each unit will have its own elevator as well as private cabanas. The pool deck will feature a common pool and bar-b-que area. Parking for residents will be found on the ground floor.
Luxurious baths and kitchens, as well as custom-trim carpentry, will grace the completed residences. During a construction tour of the building, Russell explained that “We’re using exotic woods such as Ipe and Cumaru from South American that are similar to mahogany.” Speaking of his pride in the exacting trim carpentry work that his carpenters perform for this and other clients, Russell pointed out a 9-foot ring that will grace a recess in the ceiling where a dramatic chandelier will hang.
“Carpentry is a specialty. The more complicated, the more fun it is,” he said with a smile. “We have the ability to make owners’ dreams come true.”
Russell’s wife, Diane, a former Verizon executive who spent her career in corporate sales, handles the marketing side of the business. The couple launched their business in July of 2013 in Palm Harbor. This year, the Russells plan to open a second office in Sarasota.
“This is a growth area for residential home construction as well as anything commercial,” Mark Russell said.

In addition to the current Siesta Key project, Russell & Russell recently completed residential projects on Lido Beach and a condominium in downtown Sarasota.
Speaking of the company’s commercial projects, “We do a lot of restaurants,” Mark Russell noted. A Culver’s restaurant in Lakewood Ranch as well as a small remodel of a First Watch restaurant in Sarasota are recent jobs of which the builder is proud. The firm’s portfolio also includes numerous restaurant renovations, hotels, country clubs and medical facilities. That work often includes interior trim, wainscoting, chair rails and bathrooms.
When it comes to custom homes, Russell recommends poured concrete and masonry. “They create better and more secure homes and offer the best way to protect your assets and your life. We saw what happened in Fort Myers Beach,” he said.
In the interior design world, Russell noted that clean, sleek lines are trending. “We’re seeing a move away from fancy trim to flat crown molding that is more current. Tongue and groove ceilings made from exotic woods that can be painted or stained create a more subdued look,” he said.
To assist clients in finding their “look,” his firm works with leading interior designers and architects. Russell & Russell’s smaller projects, he reported, begin with a budget of at least $50,000. “This could be a kitchen or bathroom remodel,” he explained.
Stressing the importance of a quality roof, Russel urges homeowners to “have their architect and engineer pay to go above and beyond code.” If the architecture allows it, he said, “A metal roof works especially well for a Key West- or East Indies-style home. It will hold up.”
Meanwhile, 15 highly skilled carpenters make up Russell & Russell’s carpentry team, he noted, bringing years of experience and a true sense of design and appreciation for the wood itself to their roles.
“Several have achieved master carpentry status. They are outstanding and really enjoy doing unusual and often complex trim work,” he said, and it “often involves complicated interior ceiling work, moulding, and baseboards that enhance and transform a home’s interior.
“They are equally adept at creating gorgeous outdoor living spaces.”
Many of the company’s residential and commercial projects can be seen online at
“We have a great team who work well together and we’re a real family business,” Russell said.

Jane Bartnett
Author: Jane Bartnett

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