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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

530 Grinnell Street - Key West - Award Winning Old Town Cottage

My jaw literally dropped last week when I got to see the inside of 530 Grinnell Street.  I was inside the house many years ago when it was offered for sale as a "fixer".  I remember the old version as being boxy, cramped, and devoid of style. The new version is open, airy, and chic.

I checked the historic Sanborn Fire Maps and learned that 530 Grinnell Street first appeared in the 1889 map except it was then numbered 237 Grinnell Street. The numerical identifier was changed to 530 Grinnell Street on the 1892 map.  Placement in the 1889 map tells us this house existed as of 1889 but it could have been built earlier.  I found a black and white photo of 530 Grinnell Street that was taken in 1965. At first glance the outward appearance looks pretty much the same nearly fifty years later. The house today is dressed in pink with dark stained shutters and gray porch floor.
As much as the exterior looks the same today as it did decades before, the interiors are quite a different story. Just below is a "before" photo of the kitchen at 530 Grinnell Street taken a few years ago. And below that photo is a color photo taken of the kitchen today.
Remarkable, isn't it!  The renovation of this cottage home was designed architect Guillermo Orozco with interiors by Blair Gordon Design.  The home was award a Star by the Historic Florida Keys Foundation.  The original house had small rooms for separate uses. That is the way we used to live - separate rooms for separate purposes. Today we combine spaces to provide for multiple uses. Several interior walls were removed to create open living, dining, and kitchen spaces. Old ceilings were removed to reveal double vaulted peaks which add drama and volume.  All white walls, woodwork, cabinets, and counter-tops are contrasted by the dark Brazilian Ipe floors and black handles, door knobs, and window rod in master bedroom.
I remembered the old house had two bedrooms. So does the revamped version. Except the new version offers much more utility in the same amount of space.  Blair Gordon created a front bedroom that offers sleeping spaces for four people. Nothing naughty going on here. The current owners have four little ones. But the sleeping accommodations would work well for the occasional guests that would spend a few nights.  Each bed has a lamp for reading and built in storage just under the mattress. TVs are built in to the rear walls. Pocket doors provide privacy when required.
The master bedroom is located at the rear. Like the front bedroom, pocket doors provide privacy at night and open during the daytime. French doors at the rear open out to the Brazilian Ipe deck which seems to expand the refined interior features to the outdoors.
The new bathroom has more features than you will likely find in rooms twice the size. There is a glamorous soaking tub, shower, dual sinks with separate bases, and closet. Note the circular theme repeated throughout the room from tiles, to mirrors, and to insets on the vanities.
French doors in the kitchen and master bedroom open out to the Ipe rear deck. The deck area does not have room for a pool, but it offers refined outdoor living space. 
CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet on 530 Grinnell Street that is offered for sale at $799,000.  The furnishings are available separately. Please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to arrange a private showing of this incredible award winning cottage style home. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. Most photos courtesy of Michael Philip at Doug Mayberry Real Estate.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Awhile back a reader posted a couple of comments about me being just a 'salesman'. He or she noted there is nothing wrong about being a salesman, but that reader thought my 'job' is pretty much like being a sales clerk in a store. No more, no less. Later in response to another comment on another blog I posted a pic of a snappily dressed salesman with the notation 'not Gary Thomas'  as if to disprove that I am a salesman.

A few years ago a couple I sold a house to invited me to dinner at the Cafe Marquesa during Fantasy Fest. I decided to wear some old beads I had stored in a box. While I was looking in the box I found a wallet with school photos from 1957 through 1959. Included in the wallet was my identification card as an OFFICIAL MEMBER of the JUNIOR SALES CLUB OF AMERICA. And that card brought back a wave of memories and internal ruminations about how I got to Key West and where I am in my life. It started with SUPERMAN.

Most pre-teen boys are concerned about three things: candy, things to amuse themselves with, and not getting beat up. (At least those were the things that motivated me.) I lived in Denver from birth until I moved to Key West in 1993. In the mid 1950s I would ride the Continental Trailways bus from Denver to Sterling Colorado to spend a week with my three second cousins - all girls my age and younger. I would always take a comic book to read on the bus ride, and it would always be a SUPERMAN comic. I was 11 years old in 1958 when I took my yearly trip to Sterling. There was a page that lured me into becoming a 'salesman' for the Junior Sales Club of America. (A click of GOOGLE helped me find the ad that helped make me the 'salesman' I am today. See the ad below. CLICK HERE to see a larger view of the ad.

As soon as I returned from Sterling I cut out the coupon and mailed it to Springfield 1, Mass. A few weeks later I got my OFFICIAL MEMBER identification card and a sample box of 'all occasion' cards which I promptly hawked from door to door in my neighborhood. I earnestly plead to my neighbors the efficacy of buying a box of all occasion cards because you never know when someone would have a birthday, get married, have a baby, be ill, or sadly die. You just need a box of cards for all occasions. It worked. I pre-sold the required number of boxes. At $1.25 a box of cards was a 'deal' except back then $1.25 was more than a lot of people made for an hour's work. My mother sent the money to headquarters. A couple of weeks later headquarters shipped the cards to me and I promptly delivered the all occasion cards to my awaiting customers.

In the early fall of 1959 headquarters sent me a sample box of Christmas cards together with a list of prizes I could earn. The Kodak movie camera pictured at the top left hand corner of the above ad caught my eye. I sold the required number of boxes in no time. The prize was mine.  I started shooting movies as soon as my 8 mm Kodak movie camera arrived. A year later I got a projector for Christmas so I could finally see the movies I shot. I decided I was going to be a cinema photographer and end up in Hollywood.

When I delivered the Christmas cards a neighbor lady up the next block told me that I had been knocking on her door ever since I was a little kid. She said I was always selling something. She said the first time I went to her house I was really small and had a wagon filled with canned goods out of my mother's kitchen. OMG! I guess the reader who said I am nothing but a 'salesman' was right!

There was another ad in the SUPERMAN comic which I also mailed. It was to Charles Atlas who was going to change me from a 75 pound wimp into a muscleman. I sent the coupon but never got the necessary information. I was destined to be a wimp for life. They must have known I lied about my age to get the info.

SUPERMAN has been the idol of boys who admire strength for generations. He was morally straight and fought the bad guys. And he always won. As I look back on it years later, SUPERMAN's strength and power was partially what motivated me to become an attorney. I grew up in a the western suburbs of Denver just after World War II. Our schools were always top rated in the State of Colorado. Plus America was on the move upward in the 1950s. At least where I lived everybody was moving up in life.

 In my early teen years I really did envision going to California to become a cinema photographer. I wanted to attend the Brooks Institute of Photography in San Diego. But things changed as I watched events unfold during the years of the Kennedy administration. There was a lot of racial unrest and political strife. A lot of people hated Kennedy. I remember hearing anti-Catholic rants; Anti-Irish rants; Anti-Joseph Kennedy wealth insults; Anti-civil rights comments such as 'give them an inch and they'll take a mile' or 'who do you trust less a Mexican or a n***er'.  Most of the negativity stopped after President Kennedy was assassinated. I felt a tremendous sense loss after he died. I decided to drop the idea of being a cinema photographer and announced that I would become a lawyer instead. I figured I could be a lawyer which would give me entree into politics. Hopefully one day I would get elected to public office where I could change things.

In 1964 I was seventeen years old and got involved in the campaign of three Democrats who were running for the position of county judge in Jefferson County Colorado.  The county seat is Golden, Colorado - the place where Coors Beer is brewed.  Frank Jamison and Dan Shannon got elected to the bench.  The other candidate lost to the Republican candidate. Judge Jamison took me under his wing and provided the role model I needed after my dad died the week before I graduated from high school. I put myself through college and law school. Judge Jamison helped me get summer jobs during college.  I eventually clerked for him while I attended law school. As a lawyer and as a man, I looked to him for advice and counsel when it sometimes seemed the world was not a nice place. And he was there. Always. It was Judge Frank Jamison that became my mentor, my SUPERMAN.

I was an attorney in a five man suburban Denver law firm. Later I did commercial loan workouts for two Denver banks. I worked in the Resolution Trust Corporation from 1990 until December 1993.  I worked on multi-million dollar assets some of which were extremely complex in nature. I found being a lawyer very stressful. Working for the banks had a different stress level because of the way banks function. I had more personal satisfaction working at the RTC than I did in law or banking. I only quit that job to move to Key West after I purchased a guest house here.

I operated the guest house for almost two years. I made the decision to sell it at a time I was having personal relationship issues. I made a bunch of money and invested it. Then I decided I needed a job to keep myself busy. I got a real estate license.

Selling real estate in Key West is not a part time job. The people who make good money do their job every day. They are listing new properties, showing properties, attending home inspections, handling customer issues, and maybe even writing blogs. Helping people achieve their dreams is very rewarding.

The little kid who mailed the coupons in the SUPERMAN comic (one to sell cards and the other to get muscles to avoid getting beat-up) became the man who would become a lawyer to help others not get beat-up in the court room and the guy at the bank (and later the government) who had the job of recovering money from people or businesses that would not pay it back. The little kid is still inside the old guy writing this blog. My mission now is not to get the bad guys: it is to get the good buys.

And that, Dear Reader, is how SUPERMAN got me to Key West where I became a SALESMAN.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

2649 Gulfview Drive - Key West Waterfront Home

Yours truly just listed 2649 Gulfview Drive in Key West, Florida  I have written before about the scarcity of homes that actually have waterfront views on our little island. This home is one of the few homes on the isle of Key West with a waterfront view from the first and second floor rear porches. The home sits at the far end of the private drive in the gated Gulfview Pointe community also known as Roosevelt Annex. The setting, Dear Readers, is park-like. The grounds are meticulously maintained.
 The planned community is situated on the former site of the Monroe County Fairgrounds. The photo below (dated circa 1990) shows the site before the new homes were constructed about fifteen years ago. Today 2649 Gulfview Drive is located in the same proximity of the single house shown in the old photo below. Don't let the barren space fool you, today the site is lush with swaying palms and verdant grass.
Each home has covered off street parking which also includes overhead storage.
This three bedroom home has first and second floor porches on the front and rear.  The current owner installed electric roll down mechanical shutters to provide easy storm protection.  Wind insurance is only $2,100.(Flood insurance is $913 and fire/hazard is $817.) 
The first floor rooms include the updated kitchen with granite counter-tops and stainless steel appliance, the combined dining and living area with French doors that open out to the covered rear lanai, and a first floor den or third bedroom plus adjacent bath. Note also abundant recessed lighting,  crown molding, and crisp white painted trim throughout this home.
The guest bedroom on the second floor has vaulted ceiling and lots of closets. French doors open out to the covered front porch. This home one house away from the very end of the private drive. You won't have much traffic to watch (or listen to), but you can bide your time watching the palm fronds grow. The laundry is located in the hallway between the guest bedroom and master suite.
The water views are a contributing factor on why this home may appeal to buyers looking for a second home in Key West. The photos below show the extended first and second floor decks which provide ample space for lounging. When you enter the home for the very first time your attention is drawn through the rooms and out past the pool, through the mangroves, and toward the gulf. But on the second floor you get to see a much more
CLICK HERE to view more photos of this very pretty and very clean home. There is true pride of ownership here. While you could do somethings, you won't need to do anything. This home is spotless. Some owners have added floating docks to moor their shallow watercraft.

2649 Gulfivew Drive is offered at $675,000. It has 1320 sq ft of air conditioned living space divided between the two floors. CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet for more information. Then please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule a private showing.  I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.


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.