Locals call it “Sunset Beach” or “Dog Beach.”
By Jane Bartnett
Tucked away at 10 Beach Road, at the end of Avenida Messina, a few short blocks from Siesta Key Village, lies a piece of Siesta Key history. Here, a section of privately owned white sand beach, made up of three contiguous lots that according to one of the three owners, has been owned by the Hamilton family of Siesta Key for close to 100 years, is now on the market. Totaling 2.5 acres, the land was recently listed for $1.5 million, through Bright Realty.
Adjacent to the pier owned by Siesta Key resident Mike Cosentino, and steps from the private Beach Road, the sandy lots are “one of a kind,” said Rick Hamilton, a Siesta Key native who is selling the property along with his brother Charles “Chip” Hamilton and sister, Elizabeth H. Mayer. “There’s nothing else out there like it,” he said describing the waterfront treasure.
“This is a wild piece of land on the Gulf,” said broker Barry Bright of Bright Realty, in discussing the rare property. “It’s unique in many ways.” The company’s website describes it as an “opportunity to own a slice of heaven on Siesta Key Beach…50 ft of beach frontage. Two other lots are submerged. Pitch a tent on your beach front lot and have a space for private parties.”
Commenting on the complex status of the land, Bright said, “Mother Nature peeled away the sand on this beautiful piece of Siesta Key. But, it could change and it could return to its previous status.”
Reflecting on the fluid nature of the Siesta Key coastline, Rick Hamilton recalled that as a boy, when he was growing up on Siesta Key in the 1970’s, the beach was much larger, and the population of Siesta Key was also dramatically smaller. His father told him that “when he was a kid, he could walk out a football field length,” on the property. Hamilton said that dredging for Bird Key and Big Pass impacted his family’s beach as well as much of North Siesta Key’s coastline.
Although the Hamilton family has owned the 10 Beach Road land for many years, it has been in the hands of the three Hamilton siblings since 1973. On Christmas day of that year, Rick Hamilton told the Siesta Sand, the elder Hamilton gave each one of his three children a deed to one of the three lots. “I was 13. We thought it was a joke. Each of us found a deed in our Christmas stockings,” Rick Hamilton recalled. “The three of us have kept this property all these years,” he said wistfully.
As time went by, the Hamilton children grew up. Rick played tennis in college and became a top tennis pro, coaching young stars at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy (now the IMG Academy), in Bradenton, FL. “My father was a really good player too,” he said. “I inherited his tennis talent.” His brother Chip moved to the West Coast and now makes his home in Oregon. Elizabeth and Rick remained in the area, but both live off the Key. With both parents now deceased, the three decided that while their fond memories of days at the family’s beach remain, it was time for new owners to take on this special piece of Siesta Key.
The sale of the Hamilton beach land will bring a close to the this part of the Hamilton family’s long history in Siesta Key. In the 1930’s, the Hamilton siblings great-grandfather bought the elegant Bay Island Hotel and ran the 4 story, 60 room hotel. It was, according to Sarasota History Alive, “the most delightfully situated residential hotel in Sarasota.” The Hamilton family were
“Siesta Key pioneers, first having come here in the 1920s,” according to Sarasota Magazine. When a fire decimated the hotel in 1952, the family rebuilt it as a house on Hamilton Avenue. It was here that the three Hamilton children grew up.
“Whoever becomes the new owner of the Hamilton’s beach land,” Bright said, “they will have direct access to the Gulf. Although, due to zoning regulations, it’s not possible to build a house on the property, someone could beach their Catamaran and come and enjoy their own private corner of Siesta Beach whenever they like.” He also noted that because this section of Beach Road is not a public street, parking at the edge of the property is not allowed. Public parking is a few short blocks away.
When asked what he hopes for the future of this special place, Rick Hamilton smiled and said, “well maybe Jennifer Anniston would like to buy it and preserve it.” A moment later, he said, “seriously, I’d like to see the County buy it. I’d like to see them leave it open to the public so that it can stay a historical sunset beach.”