Hurricane Sandy spurs couple to make the move to Sarasota


A hurricane catastrophe encourages a couple to start a new life in a new place

Marsha Fottler
 |  Correspondent

When Hurricane Sandy ripped through the New Jersey shore town of Manasquan in October of 2012, homeowners Tom Piccoli and David Wagner were inland, safe in a condominium while their quaint old two-story Tudor home on the ocean’s edge was being shredded. Later when they viewed the devastation, they agreed they would not live there again. “Even if we could have, the insurance premiums would have been impossible,” said Tom Piccoli. “We talked about moving to Sarasota, a place we had visited along with other cities in Florida over the past 20 years. But, we weren’t retired yet and the timing didn’t feel right.”

Instead, the men moved into a 4,000-square-foot, Colonial style home on high ground. “We bought it new from the builder,” said Piccoli, “and it was on a hill in a nearby neighborhood of year-round homes. It had what we wanted but we knew it wouldn’t be forever.” He was right, the following year, they retired and could seriously consider moving to Florida and becoming permanent residents in a city they chose for beaches as well as for the arts and culture that the city is known for.

“We started making short trips down to Sarasota to look at homes and neighborhoods after we connected with Mark Singer, a patient real estate agent who quickly became a good friend,” said David Wagner. “We wanted something already built that had a pool, three bedrooms, nice outdoor entertaining space, close to a beach and had a water view but was not on the Gulf. We wanted modern and preferred an open floor-plan and something low maintenance because at the time we had three big dogs.”

After several unsuccessful house and neighborhood tours with Singer, the Realtor suggested that the men take a look at a new community on Palmer Ranch called Hammock Preserve. Lots there offered a variety of views and there were several models in this DiVosta enclave that he thought would appeal to the couple. The men were open to the idea and took a drive down Honore Road to Hammock Preserve where they did indeed find a lot overlooking a lake and a three-bedroom three-bath, three-car garage, 2,800-square-foot model home that they agreed upon.

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