ANNA MARIA ISLAND, Fla. — The Layby Resort on Holmes Beach recently sold for $8.825 million. Rumor has it the buyers are country music stars Garth Brooks and his wife, Trisha Yearwood.

  • Property previously owned by Norfolk Southern Railroad
  • Property sold last Friday
  • More Manatee County stories

"I like Garth Brooks. I've actually seen him live,” said tourist Carol Wilderman. “I got a feeling the locals probably won't like it because it'll be even more crowded."

Listing agent Judie Berger with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty in Sarasota said she can’t confirm or deny the buyers were the Nashville power couple.

Berger sold the Gulf front property, located at 105 White Avenue, last Friday. The Norfolk Southern Railroad previously owned the property and used it as a resort for employees.

How the rumor started

According to public records, Southern Region Industrial Realty Inc. sold the special warranty deed to Coasting LLC out of Nashville. Berger said she only saw the LLC name on the closing day and was asked to “ship the keys.”

On the same day the sale closed, Anna Maria Island REMAX realtor Cindy Quinn posted on Facebook, “Rumor has it Garth Brooks just purchased the Layby.”

This week, both local newspapers The Islander and our partners at the Bradenton Herald published stories about the Brooks purchase rumors.

Manatee County resident Bill Humphries said his longtime friend worked for Norfolk Southern of more than 30 years and told him a while ago that Brooks and Yearwood were looking to buy on the island.

"'Garth Brooks and his wife are looking at the property.' So, that's how I found out even before it appeared in the local news," he said. “Of course, there's people in the area that had heard the rumors besides me.” 

We talked to Humphrey’s source who confirmed the information but did not want his identity revealed.

Familiar with the area

Brooks had the opportunity to checkout Anna Maria Island real estate back in February when he was in Bradenton for the Pittsburgh Pirates' spring training. Brooks is a big fan of the Major League Baseball team and even hit a few balls.

"He likes Pittsburgh, the Pirates, and so maybe it's a logical move for him,” said Humphreys. “Since we have the stadium that's right there in Bradenton." 

According to the listing, the Layby Resort has 9,770 square feet with 14 bedrooms that sits on nearly two acres of beachfront.

Wilderman said her husband worked for Norfolk Southern for 40 years and the family used to stay at the property while visiting from Illinois.

“I have no idea his intentions but we’re kind of sad to hear about it,” she said. “We've been coming here with our family for a long, long time."

The property does sit on a public road that cars can park on one side of the street, and there’s beach access that runs along the northern end. Berger said most people would tear down the property and re-build.

“Garth would be a good neighbor," said Humphreys.

Brooks and Yearwood are both currently on tours. Yearwood is scheduled to perform at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on Dec. 6.