SHOPPING AND LIVING ON
THE NORTH END
Commissioners granted final approval to Sunset
Realty to subdivide 75 acres on the north end of
Gasparilla Island into 77 lots, including nine on the
In August of 1987 workers began clearing a threeacre
tract on the north end of Gasparilla Island in
preparation for construction of what was then
known as “the largest retail complex on Gasparilla
Island.” The proposed 24,000-square-foot retail
center was going to be built in front of the Boca
Grande Club Marina and included a restaurant and
10 to 12 shops. A convenience store with fuel pumps
was originally proposed, but opposition to the
gasoline pumps prompted a redesign on that plan.
In November of 1988 the Necessities General
Store owned by Art and Becky Paterson opened at
the north end. Businesses in the newly-opened
Courtyard included Sunset Realty, the Casual Clam,
Spirits and Uncle Henry’s Restaurant, Island Jewels,
Islander Boutique, Seale Family, Inc. and Gasparilla
By October of 1989 Sunset Realty was in the
middle of fighting the Charlotte County
Development Review Board over a proposed 72-unit
motel on land north of the Courtyard Plaza location
they had submitted plans for in April of that year.
Sunset had filed suit against the county when their
proposal was denied, then asked a judge to rule that
the Gasparilla Island Conservation District Act that
backed the county’s denial was unconstitutional.
Sunset claimed that the GICIA’s definition of
“dwelling unit” was wrongly interpreted to mean
individual rooms inside the motel, so while Sunset
was asking for 72 units, in the eyes of the GICDA it
translated to a 20-room motel being acceptable.
At that time, Sunset already had approval from
the Development Review Committee, provided
the company could eventually prove they had an
approved storm water plan, that the “as builts”
be submitted to the county showing substantial
compliance prior to any certificate of occupancy
being issued, that the revised plans be submitted
to the fire marshal for water line approval and
that the plans for setbacks and parking be
reviewed by the county’s zoning department.
Sunset Realty eventually agreed to the terms,
advising the county were ready to acquiesce to
20 resort rooms in the northern portion of the
Courtyard Plaza in lieu of two commercial
buildings that were previously approved and
permitted. They revised their parking lot as best
they could, but even then, parking was a grave
issue on the island.
Now, many years later, the north end has
become an enclave of peace for those who want
easy access to the mainland as well as the heart
of the island. Many people prefer the peace and
quiet, as well as the nature, the north end
In 1980 Beacon Editor Marnie Banks asked
people around town what their predictions were,
and she said two answers stuck out in her mind.
Harbor Pilot Robert Johnson said, “A Renaissance.”
Temptation owner Frank Smith said,
As it turns out in that year preceding 1981,
when everything changed on the north end of
the island, both men were right.