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Friday, October 31, 2014

My Brother the Mummy


I grew up in the 1950's in a little suburb just west of Denver. I shared my bedroom with my big brother. I was ten and he was twelve years older than me. He was a handsome devil. Really. He had just come back after spending two years in the US Army. The first night he was back we went shopping for a new car. He bought a brand new blue and white 1956 Oldsmobile convertible. He was a snappy dresser who had blue suede shoes, a couple of cool sport coats, a worsted wool overcoat, lots of nice short sleeve shirts which he always wore with the sleeves rolled up to show off his muscles. After he had been back home he even had a duck tail haircut. The girls loved him, and I admired him.

There were only four television stations in Denver in the mid 1950s: ABC, CBS, NBC, plus an independent station that ran scratchy old black and white movies from the 1930s and 1940s which included weekly horror movies. I remember one particular winter night. It was quite late. My mom and dad had gone to bed hours earlier. My brother, his girlfriend Janet, and I had watched "The Mummy" - the real one with Boris Karloff wrapped in bandages. I remember the plot essentially to be a chase scene in slow motion where the mummy slowly dragged his bandaged body with one arm out-stretched chasing morons too paralyzed with fear to run away from the creature. He always caught them. Movies haven't changed much in the eighty-two years since "The Mummy" was produced. Morons are always too paralyzed with fear to escape and they always get caught. It's their destiny.

Anyway, after the movie was over my brother went outside to warm up his Oldsmobile convertible to take Janet home. It was snowing that night. He stayed outside long enough to remove snow from the car. (You readers up north in America know about snow covered cars because you have to live with it. Us Key Westers know of it from memories or seeing snow in movies or on television. We live frost-free in the Keys!)

When my brother came back inside his head and overcoat were covered with new fallen snow. When he opened the front door a blast of cold air flushed across the living room. He paused. He looked across at Janet and me sitting on the couch. He raised his right arm in the same manner as the Mummy had held his in the movie. He slowly edged toward us. He didn't say a word. He dragged his foot behind him as he headed toward us. We sat paralyzed with fear. We both screamed for our lives. I am pretty sure he caught us.  I'm alive so I know he didn't kill me. He married a different girl. So I'm not so sure about what happened to Janet.
There is a photo located in the confines of my deceased sister's basement that shows my brother wearing a short sleeve shirt with muscles tensed standing next to Janet in front of his blue and white 1956 Oldsmobile convertible (photo above is what his car looked like). They made great cars and great brothers back then.

Today I sell houses in  Key West. I mostly represent buyers who have a dream of owing a second home in Key West where there is no snow and where we only see mummies during Fantasy Fest.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

1424 Grinnell Street Key West - Sophisticated Mid-Century Update in the Casa Marina Area

1424 Grinnell Street is located in the tony Casa Marina Area of Key West. This bedroom community is a stone's throw from the nearby Atlantic Ocean. The Casa Marina Resort is a short two block walk to the west. Two great ocean front restaurants (Salute on the Beach and Louie's Backyard) are located within a five minute walk.  The madness of Old Town is within easy biking distance for those times you want to break bread with tourists or attend a play at the Waterfront Playhouse or the Red Barn Theater. The area is not without its ties to old Key West. Tennessee Williams' sister owned the house across the street at 915 Von Phister; Thomas McGuane lived half a block away also on Von Phister Street; for a brief time Ernest Hemingway lived two blocks away at the corner of South and Whalton Streets; Phil Caputo lived on Casa Marina Court; and today Judy Blume lives very near. Houses in the Casa Marina are typically located on larger lots than Old Town. Many of the homes have a semi-rural flare in that there aren't sidewalks but large public right of ways that seemingly expand the already large lots. And unlike much of Old Town where many of the homes have become vacation rental money machines, most of the houses in the Casa Marina are primary residences or second homes. 
 The listing Realtor describes 1424 Grinnell Street as a
"Tropical modern Mid-Century residence in the Casa Marina.Enter into a large foyer and a 65 ft. great room, high gloss porcelain tiles and a state of the art kitchen opening to the pool and gardens through the L shaped wall of glass sliders. The kitchen features a 16ft quartzite island that stretches across 4 of the 7 glass sliding doors. Espresso cabinets host Bosch 800 series appliances, 2 built-in ovens and a Thermador built-in refrigerator. Inset into the island is the microwave drawer, flat surface cooktop, and combination beverage and wine cooler. There are 3.5 baths that are truly outstanding. Each bedroom is abundant in space and closets with sliding glass doors to the gardens surrounded by privacy fencing."
Readers of my blog may recall I have been following the renovation of this home for many months. I found a genuine throwback photo of this house taken from the Von Phister Street side in 1965. Other photos are recent. They show the transformation of the plain 1960s ranch into the sophisticated home it is today. The interior was totally gutted. External building changes included a new roof, installation of new impact windows and doors, and the construction of a new six foot privacy wall that envelops large corner lot. Landscape architect Craig Reynolds designed the pool and gardens.

The interiors are new throughout. Once you pass the threshold you behold a huge new space that is both subtle but demanding in the same instance. How can that be, you ask.  The color pallet used in the flooring and walls is very soft and unobtrusive so when you enter the house your eyes are automatically drawn first to the far end of the house which opens out to the pool. As you pass into the house you can't help noticing the contrasting colors of the pool, tropical gardens, and sky which depth and dimension to the interior spaces. The gardens are newly planted. As they grow the depth of color from the trees and tropical foliage will become even more vibrant.
The public living spaces are bright and open into each other. The sleek porcelain floors and monochromatic color scheme tie the rooms together. Design elements such as light fixtures, tiles, mirrors, and so on catch the eye of the beholder.  
A guest bath is located off the hallway leading to the bedrooms. This home has two master bedrooms each en-suite. Each with private outdoor garden space.
The west master bedroom suite is a bit larger. Dual doors at the far end of the room open into the bath which is a darker than the other master bath which seems almost opulent compared to the almost understated simplicity employed in this bathroom. When you look closer you quickly appreciate the richness of the minimalism which includes dual sinks with tilting mirrors and a huge glass enclosed shower. A set of dual doors open into one of two walk-in closets in this second master suite.
A third guest bedroom provides generous sleeping accommodations and equally dramatic en-suite bath. Like the two master suites, the guest bedroom has access to a small private garden on the other side of the impact doors. A large privacy wall insulates the house and garden from the street. Light flows in to the rooms but privacy prevails.
As I took photos of the baths I had to touch the tiles. They so totally different from the run of the mill tiles you see see repeated in house after house in Key West. The tiles in the master bath almost have an art deco feel to me. They aren't, but they give off that aura.  And it is the aura of being different that separates this house from so many others. CLICK HERE to view more photos I took of this property.
Doors from the kitchen and living room open wide and seem to disappear into the walls. The outdoors and indoors become one as living and entertaining spaces merge. In the winter when your friends up north in New Jersey or Michigan are freezing their behinds around dinner time, you and your Key West friends will be having cocktails and canapes under the stars.
CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet on 1424 Grinnell Street which is offered at $2,595,000. Besides the refined public spaces there are two master suites, one large guest bedroom, a fourth potential bedroom which could alternatively be used as a den/study, office, media room, or home gym. There are three full baths and one half bath, two off street parking places (one covered), pool and lanai,  and laundry. Please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule a private showing of this freshly renovated home. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. I live in the Casa Marina Area and love it. Let me show you this house and this wonderful neighborhood. 



Monday, October 27, 2014

812 Simonton Street - Old Town - Key West - Transient Licensed Investment

Just Listed 812 Simonton Street in Old Town Key West. This new listing is offered as either a single, stand alone one bedroom cottage in the rear with a valuable transient rental license or as two building investment property with a total of four units, two of which have transient rental licenses.
I found a couple of old photos taken fifty years ago that show the front house and rear cottage that make up this property. Even back then it appears the original wood front porch was removed and a cinder block addition added to provide a bit more living space. If you look at the top photo you will see a typical cigar maker cottage type building with a sawtooth attachment. In the far rear you will see the outline of the rear cottage which appears clearly as a distinct unit the lower photo. The backside of St. Peter's Episcopal Church is seen to the far rear. Today the buildings appear to me to be pretty much the same. The exteriors are in much better shape and the interiors have been renovated for daily rental purposes.
The house next door to the south at 814 Simonton Street is pretty much identical to 812 Simonton Street with a couple of exceptions that might work for the available properties. The front porch offers a perfect place to sit and watch the world go by. 812 Simonton would have to be restored, but it could be done. The front house has a similar sawtooth addition located midway. The cottage in the rear has been expanded to two stories. The space between the front house and rear cottage is shorter than next door at 812 Simonton and that allowed for the addition of a pool. Finally, the neighboring property has parking whereas 812 Simonton does not have parking.
812 Simonton Street (rear) is offered at $525,000. It is a legal stand alone cottage with a transient rental license. The house is located at the rear of the lot and is accessed via a deeded walkway that flanks the north side of the property. The front house has an easement that provides access for the front one bedroom unit and the separate efficiency unit. The third unit in the main house has access off the front entry. The rear unit is gated and totally private.
The rear cottage is a fully contained one bedroom house with living room, dining area, kitchen with adjacent (outdoor) covered laundry, bedroom, and rear deck. The living space has all been updated and ready for rentals. The deck area is very attractive and very private. There is room for a hot tub or maybe even a plunge pool. The building at the rear is the backside of St. Peter's Episcopal Church. 
 I was not able to take get inside the front unit. The photos shown of the interiors are from the mls listing. The above photos show the living room which is accessed off the side easement. Note the vaulted ceiling where the sawtooth addition attaches to the original front cottage. The kitchen is located to the rear. (I believe this same space was taken away from the house next door which permitted the construction of a pool there.) The front room is the bedroom in this unit. This unit is rented as a transient rental unit.
An efficiency unit is located at the rear of the front house. It is also accessed off the side walking easement. It has a small kitchen, bath, and living/sleeping space. This unit could be legally rented as a monthly vacation rental or as a long term rental. Alternatively, a new owner might buy a transient rental license that could be transferred to this location. A transient rental license just sold for $90,000. That may help prospective buyers value either of the current listings as well.  Alternatively, a new owner might want to restore the front porch, redo the front house, perhaps expand the back cottage to add a second floor and add a pool in the middle. A good architect or designer might help a new owner come up with a nifty plan for using the two current transient licenses to create a healthy revenue stream.  I have more ideas which I will share with interested buyers.
Neither a pool nor parking is necessary to have a successful rental.  Both are helpful but not mandatory. This property has a very good location that is within easy walking distance to most Old Town attractions. The shops, restaurants, and nightlife on Duval is just one block away. You can't get much closer than that.

CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet on 812 Simonton Street as total investment package with two transient units priced at $1,300,000. CLICK HERE to view the rear cottage as a stand alone property offered at $525,000. The two properties must close in a simultaneous closing but may be sold to separate buyers. Please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule a showing of these properties. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.

Disclaimer

The information on this site is for discussion purposes only. Under no circumstances does this information constitute a recommendation to buy or sell securities, assets, real estate, or otherwise. Information has not been verified, is not guaranteed, and is subject to change.

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Key West, Florida, United States
I first read about Key West in a magazine called "After Dark" sometime in the mid 1970's. But it wasn't until March 1984 that I made my first visit to the island that would become my home. I had two weeks for a vacation and reserved a room at Colours Guesthouse (now Marrero's Guest House) for one week. I thought that if I didn't like Key West, I could always go back to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale for the rest of my trip. But after a couple of days in Key West, that was no longer a consideration. But when I wanted to extend my stay for the extra week I found there was no room at the inn. The guesthouse owner did find me a room at LaTeDa, the infamous guesthouse/restaurant. That's a story I'll write another day. But those two weeks in Key West gave me the realization that I had found Paradise. Key West has been my home since 1993 and my only regret is that it took me so long to get here. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties CRI. Let me help you find your new home or business in Paradise. Living in Paradise is not a slogan, it's a way of life.