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Monday, February 19, 2018

3 Casa Roma Lane, Key West - A Genuine One-of-a-Kind Home

Longtime readers of my blog know I love where I live, Key West. This is such a beautiful little town out in the middle of the ocean. I also love the post cards and old photos that show what Key West looked like decades ago - before it was "discovered" by the hippies,  gays, and literati who made Key West famous. It must have been a magical place then. Well, the weather and clean air and the mighty Atlantic Ocean have not changed. Town fathers have tried to preserve much of the town while allowing the tourist industry to flourish.
 The above photos show Casa Roma which in former days was an elegant compound of homes, incredible garden, and tower. The first aerial photo above was taken in 1941 while the photo immediately above was taken in 1950. During the intervening years the US government built a military hospital in the once open space to the north of the Casa Roma. Most if not all of that hospital has been rebuilt in the past two decades.  In the next couple of decades the little triangle space north of US 1 was filled in where the first Holiday Inn was later built. The wetlands across A1A (now South Roosevelt Blvd.) were filled and houses built. The land adjacent to A1A is now hotels The gardens south of tower have been developed with a few single family homes, condominiums, and weekly vacation rental time shares. The tower remains and it is now for sale.
When you compare the postcard view with the current photo you will see that there have been a couple of alterations to the structure, primarily windows added to allow sunlight into the building.
Casa Roma Lane is accessed off A1A. There is off street parking adjacent to this house. Once you pass the gate the majesty of the tower comes into full view. Then you see the box-like two story deck that converts the round tower into something not round. Then you see the pool and spa. Some may think the pool is too small. Others will find this outdoor space delightful, maybe even romantic.
The listing Realtor describes the property this way:
"The landmark tower on Casa Roma Lane. Architect and builder Kevin Melloncamp has created a stunning retreat for himself by incorporating the 1940’s tower with a large new addition surrounded by beautiful tropical gardens with heated pool and spa. This stand-alone home has an elegant entry and two bedrooms and two baths on the main level. The second level consists of a gorgeous living room with vaulted ceiling, surround sound and lots of natural light. The really cool, well equipped kitchen is in the tower with curved walls, granite counter tops and a round center island. Both the first and second floor open to large shady porches for relaxing and enjoying the views. The third level of the tower is a guest bedroom and bath. Enjoy the incredible 360 degree view of the island, Atlantic
and Gulf from the circular deck off of the fourth floor office or den with wet bar and fireplace. This incredible property is located on a private lane with parking for 2 cars, a nice storage shed and is adjacent to the Coconut Mallory Marina for boating."
The kitchen is located in the tower. It's amazing how much geometry went into crafting this space into a functional kitchen.  The spiral staircase leads upward to the top of the tower. Another amazing space. Then you walk out onto the circular walkway. As I looked at the historic photos from years ago and compare how much this tiny little part of the island has grown, I can't help regret not being able to see the space from the tower then and compare it to now. Of course, that's life anywhere - the then and the now and the future. Still this tower view no matter when anyone goes outside will always be something to see.

CLICK HERE to view the Key West MLS for more information on 3 Casa Roma Lane is offered for sale at $1,349,000. I went under contract on February 16th and is now shown in the MLS as contingent show meaning there are contingencies in the contract which must be satisfied. If this one-of-a-kind home intrigues you, please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, to schedule a showing.  I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. 


Sunday, February 18, 2018

713 Emma Street No 2, Key West - President's Weekend Open House

In honor of President's Weekend I am hosting an Open House SUNDAY only at 713 Emma Street in Key West. Forget about tourist binoculars and newspapers (although there is an ad in Today's Key West Citizen). I will be there from 12:00 until 3:00 PM where you can see the best condo buy in town.
This is a sweet two story condominium in a small condominium association of only four units all built in 2005. This two bedroom, two bath unit has a first floor/office with half-bath that can double as a third bedroom The unit has GE Smart House technology and is outfitted with Viking Range, SubZero refrigeration, crown molding, high baseboards, Brazilian cherry hardwood floors, and lots of features you'll won't find in other condos or single family homes priced below $700,000. I'm confident of that. If you doubt this Mr. Thomas, stop by and check it out.  Or look at the YouTube video below. I prefer that you see it in person. You'll really like it. I promise!

From Duval Street at Petronia, walk or drive four blocks to Emma. Turn right. Located 1/2 block on the right.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

3412 Eagle Avenue, Key West - Tropical Bungalow with a Movie Set Aesthetic

I got to preview the new listing at 3412 Eagle Avenue, Key West a couple of days ago. I showed the house a few years ago in a driving rain storm. I hate to show any home when the skies are gray, but showing a house in the rain is horrible. Buyers have to run from the car and into the house. They are frustrated and upset with Mother Nature and their Realtor for making them go out in the rain. The folks who saw this house passed up a great opportunity. I was so surprised to see what wonderful improvements the new owners made to this lovely bungalow home built in 1953.
Described as homes for every man, bungalows are modest and practical in design. They have verandas shaded by an overhanging roof. This home has been thoughtfully updated and gently brought into the 21st Century but still relies on design styles of yesterday to maintain generational aesthetics.
The main entry door is located around the corner and maybe ten feet to the rear of the front porch. The entry hall extends past the dining area and into the kitchen. The living room follows. It was when I hit the kitchen that I was sure that I had shown this house before. The cabinetry, counter-tops, appliances, and everything else is all new. The details in the design and the way the elements pulled together in a common theme just awed me.
The living room is two steps up from the kitchen. Multiple sets of French doors and windows open from the living area  out to the expansive covered veranda. Pause for one second, look back to the living room with long white drapes hanging then view the white sheers on the veranda. It looks like a scene in a movie. This owner has transformed this house into a movie set. It is magical.
The master bedroom is located at the far left front side of the house. French doors open out to the front veranda into the fenced and front yard. The beams in the vaulted ceiling punctuate the design here. There are a total for four bedrooms including the bedroom in the second floor guest suite. The guests will never leaves with a view like this.  Compare the original pool view with the design of the new home owners. The entire house was natural wood but now it is white and inviting.
3412 Eagle Avenue has 2.066 sq ft of living space divided between the two floors. The house sits on a totally fenced lot of 6,000 sq ft (50' X 120') which rivals a movie set. Must repeat that. This is such an interesting house especially when you compare it to homes closer to Old Town and the Casa Marina Areas. Many of those homes would cost a million dollars more - but they would be closer to Old Town. Smart buyers might prefer to save the money and drive an extra four minutes.

CLICK HERE to view the Key West MLS datasheet and to view more photos. This home is offered for sale at $925,000. Please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.


Friday, February 16, 2018

1214 Olivia Street, Key West - Award Winning Home

Brenda Donnelly, the listing Realtor of 1214 Olivia Street in Key West, invited me over to see this impressive listing. She walked me through each room of the house and adjacent guest cottage. She pointed out features of the original house which was expanded in 2002 by the current owner.. The renovation and expansion garnered a Ceramic Star from the Historic Keys Foundation. 
It's mid-February and there was not one cloud in the skies over Key West yesterday afternoon as I began to write today's real estate blog. The temperature was a pleasant 80 degrees. I took the above color photo an hour or so earlier when I arrived at the house. I had been there before, perhaps more then twenty years earlier, around the time the current owner purchased the home. It did not look then anything like it looks now.

The black and white house photo was taken in 1965 and shows the house to be an atypical two story Conch house. A basic two story Conch house would have been painted white and would have clean straight lines with no gingerbread as opposed to the Olivia house which has Victorian gingerbread around the gable, scalloped shell-shaped shingles, and more gingerbread trim on the wrap-around first story porch. Compare the historic photo to the color photo at the top of the blog. You'll notice the house was expanded at the point where the original house ended. The renovated home is colorful and includes embellishments like the round window with "moon rise views" at the front and back of the home just under the gable where a circular air vent once removed hot air from the attic and which now is habitable space.
1204 Olivia Street was built around 1905 in a mostly rural part of Key West. The above photo of Division Street and was taken in 1900 and shows a widow's walk visible in the foreground. Today that building is the offices of Truman and Co. at what is now identified as 1205 Truman Avenue. The trees at the rear of the widow's walk is partly the large vacant lot where a portion of 1204 Olivia Street sits today. (The massive undeveloped land and water at the top of the photos was later filled and developed. Today that span of ground includes mid-town and new town. North Roosevelt Blvd now occupies much of the space where once there was water)

The black and white house photo was taken in 1965 and shows the house to be an atypical two story Conch house. A basic two story Conch house would have been painted white and would have clean straight lines with no gingerbread as opposed to this Olivia house which has Victorian gingerbread around the gable, scalloped shell-shaped shingles, and additional gingerbread trim on the wrap-around first story porch. Compare the historic photo to the color photo at the top of the blog. You'll notice the house was expanded at the point where the original house ended. The renovated home is colorful and includes embellishments like the round window with "moon rise views" at the front and back of the home just under the gable where a circular air vent once removed hot air from the attic and which now is habitable space. Local architect Tom Pope supervised the renovation and expansion of this property. The WATER-FRONT PASS photo (two below) was that of the first owner, a clerk for the steamship line.

During the 2002 renovation every effort was made to preserve the original wood content. The house had been maintained over the years. Interior renovations included moving wall as well as adding the new rear addition. The original main level floors were removed and replaced with 12" wide Canadian wide planks to give the floors an old world look. The entry foyer changed significantly. The stairway was reversed so improve feng-shui - to prevent luck from rolling out the front door. A half bath was added under the stairway. It's adorable.
When you enter the house you can walk forward through the hallway toward the rear where the great room, dining area, and kitchen are located or pass through the pocket door passage way into the library.
Moving from the front to the rear I appreciated the care and attention to detail that was added to this home. What had been a normal Key West conch house was both expanded and architecturally embellished with details such as the heavy egg and dart crown moldings and fluted pillars. The chandelier was original to the house and was moved from the original front parlor to the dining room. The living room and kitchen are new additions to the house. It was the view out to the pool and rear that grabbed my attention. I get to see a lot of really beautiful kitchens, and this is one of those to be sure. But that view is one-of-a-kind.  I remarked to Brenda that this house has such a gracious feel. It was designed to be perfect. And it is. But it is not pretentious. It is very livable. Maybe a better way to describe it would be to say it is like arriving at a very posh hotel with relaxing people-friendly furniture. It is a nice, uncluttered space. There is plenty of additional space to amuse oneself in this retreat. Speaking of amusement, the old cistern was converted into a 1000 bottle wine cellar.
The tropical foliage at the rear of the pool sustained a bit of damage during Irma. Initial plantings have begun. Within a matter of a few months the area will be filled back in and restore total privacy to the area. The small building in the background is the outdoor kitchen. The coping around the pool is salvaged coral sidewalks from Old Town. If you look porch photo and look more closely at the pool, you will notice a secret grotto covered with foliage. There is a spa at the opposite end.
The three room guest cottage (above) sits at the far end of the driveway and adjacent to the house. The cottage includes a living room (or office), a bedroom, and a bathroom plus a very sophisticated outdoor shower. This cottage is as nice as the homes of many locals.
 
 The master suite occupies the entire new addition to the second floor which includes those impressive wide plank floors in the bedroom, a morning kitchen, a huge walk-in closet (maybe the largest in Key West), a posh en-suite bath, and a private deck overlooking the pool below. I didn't take any photos of the master bath and MLS listing does not have any that shows the incredible tub located in the sweet little nest extension shown above. There are two more guest bedrooms plus bath on the second floor. View of the pool from private deck is shown below.
During the renovation a stairway was added to the former attic area which was totally updated. Now there is a nice bedroom on the south end with two Pullman style beds tucked in under the eaves. The front end of the house has an office. Both ends have identical round glass window inserts in the former attic vents. This is such a clever use of space and the result is sheer whimsy. What kid wouldn't love to sleep up in the bird's nest with Eagle-eye views of this enchanting home and grounds.
I wonder what Mr. Simon Kemp would think of his old house now. It's pretty impressive, but not stuff or pretentious.  I think Tom Pope created good living spaces and maximized the southern views which add natural light into this home. No wonder this home earned the Ceramic Star.

CLICK HERE to view the Key West MLS datasheet and listing photos of 1214 Olivia Street, Key West, offered at $3,575,000. Then please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, to show this beautiful home. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.






















One of the things I do when showing houses is to ask the potential buyer to sit in the living area and imagine what it would be like to live here. I think this is critical for any buyer to do at any house. I also like to get the buyer to look out the front door and take in the view of the neighbors. This is the view you will see each day as your leave your home. The top photo just above was taken inside the entry hall looking to the front door. Some people would pay a pretty penny to buy a water color painting with a view like that. When the door is opened the pretty view expands to encompass several different and delightful cottage style homes.  There's a little fountain in the front yard with water trickling down. 

As soon as the front door is open and you enter this house you know your not in Kansas anymore. The home is gracious from front to back. Not a detail was overlooked,




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Gary Thomas in a Nutshell

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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.