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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Keys in the News--Again

The International Herald Tribune has an item in the November 21st issue entitled Florida Keys at a crossroad between locals and the rich. CLICK HERE to read the entire article. (About 5 minutes reading time.)

The author's main premise is that the character of island living has been changing as a result of Keys' population and popularity increases over the years which lead to more structures being built on limited amount of land. This in turn caused two social changes: (one) the demise of the Keys' laissez-faire lifestyle "where it once was possible for almost anyone — retirees and fishermen, hippies and lost souls — to move here with a little money, in search of paradise" and (two) the price of housing to rise disproportionately to the rest of South Florida. The author then reports about the loss of the egalitarian lifestyle of the Keys and the emergence of a class conflict between "the obscenely rich and their servants".

Read the article because most of what the author wrote is true. I have previously written about my dissatisfaction over the change in the character of Key West and the redevelopment of too many high priced hotel rooms and high end condos. A lot of us bemoan the loss of Atlantic Shores as an example. It will be reincarnated as an expensive oceanfront condo. I have also written about the number of over-priced new condos that have been built but not sold because they are priced too high for this market. I am not sure that I agree that there is a class conflict between the rich and their servant, however. But there most certainly is a financial disparity.

I used to live in Denver and traveled up to Aspen frequently. I watched the same phenomenon occur there. The town is now almost entirely elite. The workers live down valley and commute everyday. And even the down valley towns such as Basalt have become high priced as well. The scenery and skiing in Aspen is one of a kind.

Key West used to be unique because of its' sub-tropical climate and laissez-faire lifestyle. The climate is still the same, but many of us fear that too much of Key West will turn into a Disney-like caricature of itself. And if that happens, well that would be a real shame.

The tourists are starting to return and Christmas decorations are appearing all over town. So in spite of high prices and the demise of our culture (lol) I'd like to end by saying Happy Thanksgiving to you readers.

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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.