HOMES OF THE TREASURE COAST
An endless view of the Indian River Lagoon dominates this South Indian River Drive property.
Awaterfront home lies on a broad expanse of the
Indian River just south of old Fort Pierce, the original
military supply post for which the town is named.
South Indian River Drive offers some of St. Lucie
County’s most picturesque waterfront scenery, as well as
historical residences, nearly all of them along the west side of
the drive. It was created in a time when long distance passenger
trains helped stoke the expansion of Florida and railway
travel still brought visitors from Chicago, Cincinnati and the
Northeast to this beautiful part of Fort Pierce.
But on a unique spit of land, created in the 1950s, a cluster
of only six homes occupies the east side of the drive, providing
a coveted, private, direct riverfront enclave.
Sarah Cieslinski and JJ Follano saw a home on that east
side of the drive in 2020 and fell in love.
But at that moment, buying a house was not in their plans,
particularly a house in need of a total renovation.
They had just sold their home on C-24 Canal in Port St.
Lucie and had longed to someday live on a property with a
bigger water view. But they were focused on a completely different
kind of next step. They were preparing to outfit a van,
live in it and travel around the country. Then a trip to Zillow.
com brought them instead to a vision of a house and a future
project that would take up the next two years of their lives.
NEEDED LOTS OF WORK
The nearly 3,700-square-foot home had deeply appealing
elements, but would require a top-to- bottom rebuild in
order to complete the vision the couple shared. For years the
home had been used as an Airbnb, something that Cieslinski
claims, “the neighbors weren’t too happy about.”
The six homes cradled on the east of the drive are all gifted
with magnificent water views that stretch to three points
of the compass. It’s a miles-wide part of the Indian River
with the Vitolo Family Nature Preserve across the lagoon, so
greenery instead of high rises makes up the majority of the
scenery across the water.
The piece of land came directly out of the water, dredged
from the river bottom in the 1950s, leaving a deep channel in
front of the spit.
Cieslinski and Follano’s riverfront lot is over 1.25 acres and
seemed an ideal vacation property for those Airbnbers. But