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Thursday, September 13, 2007

So-Old! Congratulations

The commercial building pictured above is Key West's first hospital, the Gayley Hospital. How fortuitous for gay Key West... For the last 30 or so years it has been the law offices of Nathan Eden and various attorneys. It is located one half block off Duval at 415 Eaton Street. And it is just a block walk to the Monroe County Courthouse complex on Whitehead Street. But it is just around the corner and backs onto the grounds of the Southern Cross Hotel located at 326 Duval Street.

The owner of the Southern Cross Hotel contacted me in January 2005 about Eaton Street property. It was then listed with another Realtor at $1,800,000, and we began the dance to purchase the building. We made several offers and counteroffers over the next two years, none of which led to anything other than frustration. The owners of the Eaton Street property went through three different brokers in an attempt to sell the building. They even raised the asking price before the Key West real estate market crashed. My buyer would have none of it.

The Monroe County Tax Records show that the building was built in 1943, but those records are surely inaccurate. The buildings lines and the bones of the building suggest much earlier construction. There are actually three buildings that are connected. They sit on a very deep lot that obscure the size of the building which is reportedly over 11,000 square feet. And it has off-street parking for several cars. So why the difficulty in selling the building, other than price, you ask.

It is a historic building in a very visible location. The Historic Architectural Review Commission must approve any renovation to any building in the historic district, so most buyers found the HARC restrictions and building code requirements to be oppressive. And the current cost of renovation in Key West makes almost any commercial renovation a very, very costly proposition. Those factors made that building decidedly a very costly proposition for most potential buyers.

But the owner of the Southern Cross Hotel had a plan in mind. He proposes to redevelop several of the current hotel rooms into larger (more profitable ) hotel rooms and move the remaining licenses to the Eaton Street addition. He will add a pool and small restaurant to Eaton Street and it will serve as the offices and registration desk for the hotel.

I was never able to have a face to face meeting with the sellers, both of whom are attorneys. I am an attorney as well, but not licensed in Florida. But I was finally able to get them to read a lengthy proposal that I made where I demonstrated how my buyer's most recent offer got them the near equivalent to the price they were asking back in January 2005. To my surprise they finally accepted it. And we closed the cash transaction on September 11th.

That wasn't the only property my client purchased in Key West this week. He also bought 300 Front Street for $6.5 million. That is a total of $8 million in commercial property in a very depressed market. My buyer is one smart cookie. He has made a lot of money in Key West, but he doesn't buy unless the price is right.

There are some very good buying opportunities in Key West right now. Maybe you should think of taking advantage of the situation while it lasts. Prices may go down a little further, especially on bad properties in bad locations, but there are many under priced gems out there looking for new ownership. Checkout our Key West mls website and by CLICKING HERE and then call me at 305-766-2642 to schedule a showing of the properties that interest you.

Congratulations Joseph! And Thank You.

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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.