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Million dollar listings: St. Johns County sees increase in homes selling for $1M or more

Sheldon Gardner, St Augustine Record, September 14, 2021 

On the southern end of St. George Street in downtown St. Augustine, the side opposite the tourist hub, stands a home that embodies everything luxury buyers are looking for, real estate firm owner and broker Karen Zander said. 

The three-bedroom house at 318 St. George St. was revamped with the help of a historic preservation expert. Its guest house overlooks Lake Maria Sanchez and the home boasts contemporary, high-end features. 

Zander and her husband own the firm 97Park, which is handling the listing.

“Originally designed for the patriarch of Chicago’s Stege Brewing family in 1902 by acclaimed architect Frederick Henderich, it is one of only a select few homes remaining today with distinctive palm tree porch columns,” according to the listing on the firm’s website. Read More


Home sales in St. Johns County soar during pandemicKaren Zander at 62 Ferris Dr. home

Stuart Korfage, St Augustine Record, September 12, 2020 

In a pandemic that has crushed the economy and in a market that has seen consistently rising prices, residential real estate in this county is still as robust as ever. Agent Karen Zander of 97 Park in St. Augustine said buyers who are used to a more laid-back approach to finding a home are getting left out in this market.

“It’s a hard thing for a buyer to wrap their head around that they have to compete out of the gate on these houses,” she said.  Zander said her style is not to pressure anyone into a sale because it’s such a big decision in someone’s life. But this is not a time for dithering. “You’ve got to be able to pull the trigger,” she said. Read more


St. Johns County real estate industry pivots during coronavirus

Colleen Jones, St Augustine Record, May 28, 2020

Many real estate agents have been using online technology to help communicate with home buyers and sellers for years now. But most of those agents switched to full online capabilities once the coronavirus pandemic took hold. “It’s not as busy as it should be because it’s our busy season, but it’s not completely stagnant, either,” Zander said. Read more

Coronavirus: St. Johns real estate market adapts to challenging times

Colleen Jones, St Augustine Record, April 6, 2020

With mortgage rates at historic lows, it could be the best time to buy a home. But quarantine and social distancing don’t make it easy to show properties, so there is not as much activity in real estate offices as agents might hope.

For her part, Karen Zander of 97Park, said she is still getting a lot of new leads from the firm’s website and moving ahead on contracts with buyers and sellers.

Read more

Coronavirus: Landlords offering rent relief to hard-hit commercial tenants

Colleen Jones, St Augustine Record, April 5, 2020

April 1 marked the first time many businesses had to pay rent since the novel coronavirus crisis shut down large portions of the economy. For many businesses — especially those in the service and hospitality industries that have seen revenue plummet or go away entirely — making that monthly rent has become tougher. Some landlords of commercial properties have responded by offering rent relief, deferrals or other arrangements to help tenants.

But Karen Zander, whose 97Park real estate firm handles residential and commercial properties, said it can be easier for a large corporation like Publix to absorb losses a smaller independent landlord in St. Augustine might not be able to handle. Read more

Flagler Crossing development in St. Augustine moves toward approval

Colleen Jones, St Augustine Record, March 4, 2020

An application to build up to 336 multi-family units off Lewis Speedway received the recommendation of the St. Augustine Planning and Zoning Board Tuesday. One reason PZB members voted in favor of the rezoning of Flagler Crossing from Planned Unit Development to Residential Low-One was to provide an incentive for developers to sell the units at so-called “workforce housing” rates.

PZB chair Karen Zander said she supported the project because it will allow for moderately priced homes in an area where it was appropriate.

“And you just will not get that without allowing some kind of density, and you will not get it in the historic district,” Zander said. Read more

Owners of old Santa Maria Restaurant could soon start construction

Lorena Inclán, Action News Jax, January 9, 2020

A longstanding eye sore in St. Augustine’s historic district will soon go away. The owners of the Santa Maria restaurant will soon get a chance to start construction after passing a major city hurdle.

“It’s just an eyesore right here in the heart of St. Augustine so I’m glad it’s finally coming down,” said local Anne Furnari.

Four members of the board Karen Zander, Christina Opsahl, Sara Ryan and Mike Davis really understood that not granting a variance for parking and granting a use by exception displacing parking for O.C. White’s parking lot would have possibly caused more traffic with Santa Maria‘s customers trying to get one of the parking spaces. Read more

Project to begin soon at Santa Maria site in St. Augustine

Sheldon Gardner, St Augustine Record, January 7, 2020

A new restaurant at the Santa Maria site could be up and running in a couple of years. St. Augustine’s Planning and Zoning Board approved the final pieces of the restaurant project that will replace the former Santa Maria restaurant building, which is over the Matanzas River off downtown’s bayfront. The approval at Tuesday’s meeting of floating dock plans and a variance to parking requirements – so that no offsite parking is required – means the project can now be built as proposed.

Board Chair Karen Zander said the property meets the “singular disadvantage” criteria for a variance unlike any other she’s seen.

The property is over the water, so there’s no place to provide parking onsite. Read more


St. Augustine Regatta of Lights winners announced

St Augustine Record, December 19, 2020

The St. Augustine Regatta of Lights took place Saturday in the Matanzas Bay.

Several boats of various sizes participated. The boats were judged in different categories by a panel that included Matt Brown, Port and Waterway Commission; Karen Zander, St Augustine Planning and Zoning Board; John Valdes, St. Augustine City commissioner; Jamie Williams, St. Augustine Record; Elyse Sloan, St. Augustine Beach Planning and Zoning Board. Read more

Restaurant approved for St. Augustine boatyard

Sheldon Gardner, St Augustine Record, December 8, 2019

A new restaurant with a bar is coming to the south end of Riberia Street at the St. Augustine Marine Center boatyard because of approval by St. Augustine’s Planning and Zoning Board. The move raised concerns about traffic and noise in Lincolnville, but the project has also been met with enthusiasm by some.

While the board approved the dock unanimously, the vote for the restaurant had one board member against it: Karen Zander.

Zander said she believes the restaurant, which is expected to be close to 4,300 square feet at 404 Riberia St., will change the character of the area. Separate bathrooms and a storage and food prep area will add more than 800 square feet to that total. Read more

St. Augustine gateway at a crossroads

Colleen Jones, St Augustine Record, November 25, 2019

The opportunity is certainly there for the taking for developers looking for the visibility of such a prime location as the intersection of King Street and U.S. 1. Then why are available properties at the so-called “gateway” to St. Augustine not being snapped up for commercial use? Currently, there is just one new project underway, a medical marijuana dispensary at the former ABC Fine Wine & Spirits at 160 King St.

Karen Zander, who deals in commercial properties with 97Park, said part of the reason may be high rent.

Zander, who also chairs the PZB, said businesses may find Class A higher-end retail units like those in new commercial complexes more appealing for the price than downtown properties. Read more

St. Augustine architect Dixon remembered as great talent, loyal friend

Stuart Korfhage, St Augustine Record, August 3, 2019

Anyone who wants to see Jerry Dixon’s legacy can simply look up as they travel through the St. Augustine bayfront. His influence is all over it. The architect of the Hilton St. Augustine Historic Bayfront hotel and many other significant buildings in the city, Dixon was one of the most significant architects in this community of his generation.

Local real estate agent and close friend of Dixon, Karen Zander said he was a huge influence on her — including her time as a PZB member herself.

“Jerry was able to look at projects that came before Planning and Zoning … he was so talented as an architect that he could look at things in a way nobody else has been able to do,” she said. “He taught me how to be a Planning and Zoning member: how to look at applications, how to think about them, how to approach them.” Read more

Tringali taking over Giggling Gator site, will add breakfast restaurant

Stuart Korfhage, St Augustine Record, May 29, 2019

Having already revitalized part of the western edge of King Street, Joe Tringali is building on that progress again. The owner of Carmelo’s and One Twenty Three Burger House, Tringali recently reached a deal to take over and repurpose the site of the now-closed Giggling Gator pub at 121 King St. According to county property records, the transaction was for $800,000.

Tringali said the property was perfectly suited to his needs because the Burger House is next door. Parking there is limited, and the business has to rely on a nearby satellite parking area during peak times.

Karen Zander, a local real estate agent and a member of the St. Augustine Planning and Zoning Board, said she was proud of Tringali for adding a business along King Street that doesn’t sell alcohol. Read more

Planning board member: St. Augustine businesses ‘starved’ for short-term parking

Sheldon Gardner, St Augustine Record, May 21, 2019

Communities around the country are realizing they can’t build their way out of congestion, said Jonathan Paul, city of St. Augustine mobility consultant and leader of the firm NUE Urban Concepts. St. Augustine’s vision for its transportation network, which will address traffic congestion, is focused on much more than just vehicles.

Planning board member Karen Zander leads a group of St. Augustine business owners that is affiliated with the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce. In responding to the plan, Zander voiced concerns about having parking for customers to get in and out quickly of local businesses and not pay a large fee to park. “I can tell you the downtown business community absolutely is starved for short-term parking, and it’s a concern for every single business owner,” Zander said. Read more

Home of the Week

The Florida Times Union, June 7, 2019

Welcome to II Views, situated high above the dunes overlooking both the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean. Meticulously maintained, it offers river-recovered heart pine floors on the upper three levels, as well as the dining area barrel ceiling and the staircases. High-end appliances, custom cabinetry, heated saltwater pool and many more fine features await in this magnificent estate, never before on the market. Read more


High-dollar real estate continues to move in St. Johns County

Colleen Jones, St Augustine Record, May 14, 2019

It seems the sweet spot in St. Johns County’s housing market remains in the $200,000 to $400,000 price range. Between February 2018 and February 2019, the vast majority of single-family homes sold fell within that category, with 2,519 sales priced between $200,001 to $300,000 and 2,466 between $300,001 to $400,000, according to Metro Market Trends, an industry analyst group.

There were a total of 8,573 transactions over the one-year period, with St. Johns County continuing to attract buyers from all over the country, according to Karen Zander, broker/owner of 97Park real estate agency.

“They’re looking anywhere in St. Johns County,” Zander said. “And it’s because of our school district that our real estate market is so strong.” Read more

Attracting buyers to high-dollar properties in St. Johns County requires steep investments of time, money

Stuart Korfhage, St Augustine Record, April 18, 2019

Some people probably think Karen and Stefan Zander of 97Park Real Estate just hit the lottery when they earned the listing of an ultra-upscale property in Crescent Beach dubbed “Two Views.”

But the truth is that it’s more like buying a suitcase full of lottery tickets and hoping for a payout.

Well, it’s not quite so random, but success in the luxury real estate market in St. Johns County is certainly a gamble. A real estate agent doesn’t get paid until a deal is struck. And they spend their own money marketing the property. Read more

Businesses that cater to St. Johns’ large deaf community fill a needed void

Colleen Jones, St Augustine Record, March 23, 2019

Can you imagine trying to describe to a barber the kind of cut you want, but in a foreign language? To question a bill from a mechanic who is not bilingual? Or to understand what a doctor’s prognosis is when you don’t speak the language? For the deaf and hard of hearing, these kinds of encounters are everyday challenges. Robert Dunn knows this firsthand…

Karen Zander, broker/owner of 97Park in St. Augustine, explained why she decided to add both Stultz and another sales associate fluent in ASL to the team.

“It’s a different culture [the deaf community] and so you have to understand how the deaf approach this [home buying] or anything else. … With Nick being a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults), his credibility is already high,” Zander said. Read more

Senior growth in St. Johns County brings wealth, demand

Sheldon Gardner, St Augustine Record, March 17, 2019

David Vermeulen breezed through Coquina Crossing last week on a golf cart, stopping in several driveways to show off properties for sale. Aside from just listing property details, Vermeulen has a long story to tell. He’s been selling houses in the age-restricted community, which is off State Road 207, for about 19 years, he said.

But real estate agent Karen Zander, co-owner and broker at 97Park, uses the school system as a selling point for seniors and others for a property’s resale value, she said. Read more

High earners turning to rentals at growing rate

Stuart Korfhage, St Augustine Record, February 28, 2019

It’s hard to say whether home ownership is less appealing or more difficult to attain, but the numbers say even high-level earners are more likely to rent these days. A study published by Apartment List says high-income renter households — those earning at least $100,000 per year — represent the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. housing market. From 2008-2017, nearly 2 million high-income households became renters, an increase of 48 percent.

It’s unclear what percentage of county renters are “high earners” as the Apartment List study defines, but it’s a good bet anyone signing a lease at a new apartment development will have a pretty good income.

Karen Zander, broker/owner of 97 Park real estate, said the modest increase in inventory hasn’t led to lower prices. Read more

Former St. Augustine mayors talk change, challenges facing city

Sheldon Gardner, St Augustine Record, February 11, 2019

Back when Ramelle Petroglou held the gavel on the St. Augustine City Commission, St. Johns County was a small community. When she served as mayor in the 1980s, the county’s population was small enough that a mayor “knew everybody.” “It made cooperation so easy. … The only thing we couldn’t solve was traffic and parking, and it’s not solved today. I don’t think it’s solvable.”

Petroglou talked about her experiences as mayor and her thoughts about the city’s current issues beside two other former St. Augustine mayors, Tracy Upchurch and Joe Boles, on Friday morning at the St. Augustine Art Association on Marine Street. They were the featured guests of the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce’s Historic St. Augustine Area Council meeting, which drew business owners and officials and residents of the city and county.

Karen Zander, chair of the council, asked questions then answered a couple of questions from the crowd.

“You don’t see three decades of mayors in one room very often,” Zander said. Read more



St Augustine Social, September 17, 2018

Fine artist Teri Tompkins won the Jean Wagner Troemel Best in Show Award for her oil painting “Cindy’s Oak #2,” on display in the annual Fall Members Show at the St. Augustine Art Association. Tompkins has won the top award four times since it was established nearly ten years ago by the late Jean Wagner Troemel, an acclaimed artist and local art advocate who passed away in early 2018 at the age of 96.

For the second season, Karen Zander, owner of 97Park Realty, presented a $2500 check to the St. Augustine Art Association to sponsor the monthly awards. “We are very proud to be associated with this fine organization that formed the local art colony and is celebrating 95 years of enriching the cultural life here,” said Zander. Read more

Opportunity Zones pique investor interest; firm seeks millions for region

Sheldon Gardner, St Augustine Record, December 21, 2018

A new type of tax break is drawing attention from investors and local government and business officials. St. Johns County has two areas designated as an Opportunity Zone, and they separately cover parts of the city of St. Augustine and St. Johns County, including a swath of land stretching east of Interstate 95 and south of State Road 16. Opportunity Zones are federally approved areas designed to draw investment to low-income communities through tax incentives.

Karen and Stefan Zander, owners and brokers at the real estate firm 97Park, have gotten interest from someone about pursuing an Opportunity Zone project, Karen Zander said. She declined to provide further details on it. Stefan Zander also attended the conference.

“People are thinking about this as … another tool in the toolbox of financing large-scale projects,” he said. Read more

Maguire acquires 45 Cordova from Dixon, plans commercial/residential project

Stuart Korfhage, St Augustine Record, October 30, 2018

A premier property in downtown St. Augustine that was damaged in a 2014 fire has a new owner and will soon be part of the city’s commercial landscape again. The parcel at 45 Cordova St. has been acquired by the Maguire Land Corp., led by longtime St. Augustine businessman Bruce Maguire.

Karen Zander, broker/owner at 97 Park, was the agent who handled the sale. She said an agreement was reached within weeks of listing the property.

Getting the right buyer was key for a property like the one on Cordova Street because those who haven’t done business in St. Augustine don’t always understand the complexities of the city’s zoning restrictions. Read more


St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce names new board members

Ponte Vedra Recorder, November 18, 2018

Isabelle Renault, president and CEO of St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce, recently announced the new board members for fiscal year 2018-2019.

Joining the board as council chairs are Stephen Hudson of Digital Mark Company, LLC, for North Business Council; Lisa McGowan of VyStar Credit Union St. Augustine Beach for Small Business Council; Melissa Rowe of Puroclean Emergency Restoration Services for Women with Vision Council; Joanna Stark of Our Lady of La Leche Shrine Mission Nombre de Dios for Tourism and Hospitality Council; Jane West of Jane West Law for Agricultural and Environmental Council; Kristen White of Allegro for South Beaches Council; Karen Zander of 97Park for Historic St. Augustine Area Council, and Richard Goldman of St. Johns County Visitors & Convention Bureau as ex-officio. Read more

County’s growth as tourist destination mirrors rise in population

Stuart Korfhage, February 4, 2018

As new subdivisions pile up in St. Johns County, it’s easy to see the reasons why potential residents are drawn here: weather, schools, proximity to beach, growing job opportunities, etc. But one of the reasons this area has become so popular with new residents is that so many of them started as tourists. It’s an industry that tracks its ascendance right along with housing development.

Because there is so much traffic in the Historic District, local agent Karen Zander said it makes sense to have an office as she does on Hypolita Street. She said tourists often wander in the doors of 97Park — as the brokerage is called — and become customers.

“We get a tremendous amount of interest from people who are here visiting,” she said. “A tremendous amount of interest from people who say, ‘What a great place to live. I love it here.’ Read more

10 artists awarded for entries in art association’s Not-So-Still-Life Exhibition

St Augustine Record, February 28, 2018

Ten artists were recognized for their entries in the St. Augustine Art Association’s Not-So-Still-Life Exhibition earlier this month. St. Augustine artist Nancy Hamlin-Vogler won the Jean Wagner Troemel Best-in-Show Award for her mixed-media work entitled, “Strange Bird Landing.”

Toni DeWitt, Elaine Stecker, Randon Eddy, Joseph Paul Getchius and Sharon Belinski received honorable mentions. Award sponsor Karen Zander, owner of 97Park Realty, handed out the artistic excellence awards. Read more


‘We’re not coming back’

Sheldon Gardner, St Augustine Record, January 27, 2018

Panhandling has some St. Augustine visitors speaking up, saying they won’t be back, the president of the county’s visitors bureau said. “We monitor social media, and we listen to our stakeholders, and they are telling us … We’ve recorded a number of complaints [and] concerns, [including] folks saying we’re not coming back. We didn’t feel safe, in some cases accusatory to the destination for allowing this to happen,” aid said Richard Goldman, president and CEO of the St Augustine, Ponte Vedra, & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau.

Karen Zander, owner of downtown real-estate business 97Park, said while she’s seen less panhandling downtown recently, she’s heard from business owners about panhandlers sleeping on their properties — even sometimes hiding behind trash cans. Read more

2017 and Earlier


Molly Wilson, St Augustine Social, October 23, 2017

More than 120 works of art created by members of the St. Augustine Art Association are featured now through October 29, in the art group’s landmark gallery at 22 Marine Street. Ten artists, working in varied styles and materials, were recognized with outstanding artistic excellence awards during the opening reception of the annual juried Fall Members Show.

Sponsored by 97Park Real Estate firm, the awards are presented each month throughout the Art Association’s exhibit season. “We are so pleased to be part of this community and to support artists and the exciting programs offered by the St. Augustine Art Association,” said Karen Zander, owner of 97Park. Read more