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Saturday, January 30, 2010

728 Windsor Lane - Old Town Renovation Project - Key West

728 Windsor Lane - Old Town - Key West

Room for a pool behind 728 Windsor Lane
728 Windsor Lane as it appeared in 1965 (above) and today (below)

728 Windsor Lane - Old Town - Key West

Similar home on Petronia Street undergoing remodel today

Similar home (but larger in size and with pool) on Carey Lane that is priced at $1,150,000

The listing Realtor describes 728 Windsor Lane thus:
"If you are a ready-to-act buyer who has been waiting for the chance to live in the charm district of Key West, this may be the house that causes you to take immediate action. While small, it is difficult to find a home in this area for under $300,000. The house has a great private shady yard with room for a small pool. On the weekends, you can look forward to Operation Recharge. Sleep in on Saturday morning, drink your coffee, and relax. In the afternoon, jump on your bike and ride around and enjoy the tropical ambiance. It's thrilling to live so close to the heart of Key West music and entertaining district. There is some work to be done but for the size the price is a fit!"
This two bedroom house has 654 sq ft of living space and sits on a 1279 sq ft lot 1/2 block from the top of Solares Hill, the highest point on the Island of Key West. 728 Windsor Lane is offered at $260,000 or $398 per sq ft. The property is tenant occupied and we need at least 24 hours advance notice to see this property. I'm neither an architect nor builder, but I came up with a plausible plan to renovate this house in such as keep the historic facade intact but that would allow a new owner to totally redo the inside to create new living spaces that meet today's lifestyle.

My idea is to remove all existing interior walls, doors, and windows. Repair the foundation as necessary and reconfigure the house with a large bedroom with ensuite bath at the front. Create a new side entrance on the west side of the house with entry into the new living-dining-kitchen areas at the rear. A door off the kitchen would permit guests to use the bath without going into the bedroom area. The existing structure is a double sawtooth with an addition at the rear. I would remove the existing ceiling and create new vaulted ceilings throughout. New French doors would be added to the rear of the house that would open onto the rear deck and pool. I have seen similarly sized and styled homes have been renovated in similar fashion. Local contractors have done lots of houses like this. I cannot say everything I suggest will work or would get approved by HARC or the city planning department. And I cannot guarantee the price of the work. But this only a 650 sq ft property. I just have difficulty believing construction could go beyond $150,000.

728 Windsor Lane is not a big house for starters, and you can't grow the house much larger. But you could immensely improve the structure and the space. The location is great. There is a neighborhood grocery 1/2 block away. Duval Street is three blocks to the west and the Historic Seaport is five blocks to the north. You could walk to just about any spot in Old Town in about ten minutes or less. There are two other houses in the Old Town area priced under $260,000. GO HERE to compare all three. Those two houses are both short sales. 728 Windsor Lane is not. That means you will know that you are getting the house for the price you negotiate and that you will not need months of waiting for some "negotiator" or should I say "procastinator" to decide if you get to buy your place in Paradise.

I did another comparison of single family homes under 800 sq ft in Old Town. I did not put any price limit on my search, but I did look for houses that have been renovated and that have pools. The only one is a house I wrote about a week ago at 812 Johnson Lane. CLICK HERE to see what you can get for $499,000.

The Red "X" marks the spot where 728 Windsor Lane is located
CLICK HERE to read more about 728 Windsor Lane. Please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to arrange a showing on this special little house. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West, Florida.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Incredible Shrunk ! Key West

113 Petronia Street - Key West - Re-created by Ronny Bailey

113 Petronia Street - Key West - Re-created by Ronny Bailey

113 Petronia Street - Key West - Re-created by Ronny Bailey

113 Petronia Street - Key West - Re-created by Ronny Bailey

Local artist Ronny Bailey came by our office yesterday and showed off his latest gem. Everybody had to stop work and go take a peek at portrayal of 113 Petronia Street that got shrunk to table top size.

You have to see Ronny's work in person. You cannot resist getting up close and personal with his art. You will be awed!

I wrote about Ronny before. CLICK HERE. He grew up in Key West and was a carpenter for 30 years. Recreation of Old Town Key West homes in miniature sizes is now his passion. He beams with pride as he talks about his work. This is a man in love with his life and his work. And his work is a testament to his love of the place that he has called home. He loves the Key West of yore and recreates houses the way they looked before the gentrification and HARCifornication.

Ronny told me he had discussed creating a piece about 113 Petronia Street with its owner. The owner had some of the original wood used in building the house and gave it to Ronny. Ronny cut, sawed, and carved the wood and created the incredible shrunk.

113 Petronia Street as it appeared in 1965

Ronny will be one of many artists showing their creations at The 25Th Annual Key West Craft Show January 30 to January 31 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Juried artisans and crafters display their talents at a popular show on lower Whitehead and Caroline Streets in historic Old Town.

Visit Ronny's website if you are not in town. CLICK HERE. But if you are here, stop by and see the Incredible Shrunk.

If you are looking for a life size house, please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West. I sell real houses. They sometimes cost a lot of money. But you can really live in them. CLICK HERE to search the Key West mls. If you see a place you like, please call me. Thanks.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

905 Elizabeth Street - Old Town - Key West

2004 Historic Preservation Award Recipient

Preferred Properties just listed the really charming four bedroom three and 0ne-half bath totally renovated home located 905 Elizabeth Street in Old Town Key West. This is the way the listing agent describes this home:

"This fully-renovated 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath house on a quiet street in Old Town surprises. Renovation won coveted 2004 Historic Preservation Award. House naturally flows from living and dining areas through French doors to private outdoor tropical setting with semi-enclosed rear porch, lush landscaping, pool and spa. Outdoor cooking and entertainment zone was featured in a 2009 national publication. Upstairs is the master suite with ensuite bath, vaulted ceilings and French doors leading to a wonderful balcony, plus additional bedrooms and bath. Downstairs bedroom with ensuite bath plus a powder room make this property ideal for guests and a large family. Classic historic house with modern additions, provides indoor outdoor living at its best!"

"French doors to private outdoor tropical setting with semi-enclosed rear porch"

Potential buyers that want a "big" house ought to checkout this property. The listing agent shows the property as having 2091 sq ft of living space. If you live up north or the Midwest that may not seem very large. But it is a big deal here. The lot is also fairly large for Old Town: 25' X 131' or 3275 sq ft. I always tell people you have no idea what sits behind so many of the houses in Old Town. The remark of the listing agent about this house as being a "surprise" is only an invitation to take a look to see what is beyond the facade. And a pretty facade it is.

If you have done your "looking" at Key West homes before, you already know that homes that have been remodeled with outdoor living spaces in mind. In fact in mind is an understatement. We come to Key West to live in the outdoors as much as possible. And many homes are recreated to bring as much of the "outside" in and vice versa. Look at the night time photo below of the rear living area overlooking the pool. Take a glance to the second floor as well. You will soon see that the outside is a big deal.

CLICK HERE for more detailed information and to view several photos of this really charming home. 905 Elizabeth Street is offered at $1,695,000.

If you would like to see this home or any other property listed for sale in Key West, please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West, Florida. Our office is the exclusive Lower Florida Keys affiliate of Christie's Great Estates.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

1119 Catherine Street - Legal Duplex - Bank Owned - Key West

1119 Catherine Street Duplex - Bank Owned - Key West
The new listing at 1119 Catherine Street ought to sell like Hot Cakes. This property was offered as a short sale for several months and the lender was outrageously difficult to deal with. Or so I was told. Now the property is BANK OWNED. It is priced at $449,900 or $277 per sq ft.

The photo above is a bit deceptive. The photo shows a glass enclosed front porch. In real life the porch area is now part of the master suite with drywall that cleverly conceals the windows on the exterior. That deception enabled the renovator to use the interior space much more efficiently. The downstairs unit would make a really great place for an owner to live. The kitchen has higher end cabinets and tile already installed. The appliances still need to be purchased. The baths are nearly complete but are missing a couple of sinks and toilets. And the living area still needs hardwood floors installed.

Upstairs the views are just wonderful. This place is really bright and cheery. It needs a few finishing touches as well. But overall the upstairs and downstairs unit can be completed fairly quickly and cheaply-maybe $20,000 or so.

There is room for a pool in the backyard. There are some nuisance trees that will need to be removed and the pool would need to be hand dug. That happens quite often. I think the existing main level deck could be extended into the rear yard so that the depth of the pool need not be so deep. A pool and deck like that might add an additional $50,000 to your investment.

I don't do property management, but the upstairs unit would be an easy rental with or without a pool. The downstairs unit would be great for an owner live-in situation. Maybe you use the upstairs for the occasional guests instead of as a long term rental. CLICK HERE for more detailed info and to see photos.

This property is located about 50 feet west of White Street near the Island Gym and Faustos Food Palace. There is a $20 hand wash car cleaning place on the corner CLICK HERE. The area has several neighborhood restaurants, galleries, shops, three gyms within three or four blocks, grade school and the Montessori School within walking distance, and so on. Sandy's Cafe, Island City Tile, and the $35 per hour Sandbox are two blocks to the north. The Atlantic Ocean is about six blocks to the south and Duval Street is a seven to ten minute walk to the west. MAP.

If you are looking for a property like this, please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

625 Eaton Street -- Old Town - Key West

625 Eaton Street - Old Town - Key West
I have been watching the renovation taking place at 625 Eaton Street for several months. The old Grand Dame just kept getting prettier and prettier every day. And then today it was listed for sale at the asking price of $929,000 or $536 per sq ft. My research shows this house was built in 1889 which would make it one of the older buildings in Key West.

625 Eaton Street in 1965 - What a Dame. She hasn't aged a bit.

But read on, Dear Reader. The listing Realtor describes the property this way:
"The finishing touches are being done to this Historic Beauty in the heart of Old Town Key West. This 1938 home was once owned and lived in by the famous artist Stephen Avila and just recently was renovated by the new owners that purchased this property from the Avila family. The Historic preservation award has been given to this Key West charmer. Huge porches and Dade county pine accent this 3 bedroom 3 bath gem. Footsteps to Duval and all of it's wonderful restaurants and galleries."
I have not been inside since the work has been done. But I showed the house several times when it was listed for sale two years ago. I wrote this about the house then "I was captivated by this property the very first time I stepped inside. The rooms just take you back to another time. The rooms are gracious in their simplicity." The people I showed it to loved the house but thought the lot was too small or they fretted over not having off street parking. Others didn't like the Eaton Street location. You can't have everything. Well, you can. You just have to pay for it. So the owner did the renovation and now the work is nearly complete. There still is no parking and the house is still located on Eaton Street. There is a cocktail pool on the rear west side. And the house looks really nice on the outside.

The cocktail pool at 625 Eaton Street Key West

I used to own the really big house one block to the west at 511 Eaton Street. I know that Eaton Street can sometimes be busy and noisy during the daytime. But the traffic slows down on the weekends and is almost non-existent at night. The location is great for people that want to be able to walk all over Old Town. Duval Street is just two blocks to the west. From there you can turn left or right and see just about everything you need to see and maybe more. You can walk two blocks to the north and end up at the Historic Key West Seaport. The Monroe County Library is a block to the south. If you head east and go about 120 miles you will end up in Miami with all those crazy drivers and crooked politicians.

CLICK HERE to read the info provided by the listing Realtor and view some photos of the house as it looks today. Better yet, please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, to schedule a showing of this property. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West, Florida.

Monday, January 25, 2010

510 Frances Street - Old Town - Key West

510 Frances Street Key West as it appeared in 1965

510 Frances Street Key West as it appears in 2010
I was born and raised in one of the western suburbs of Denver. Everybody I knew lived in new homes (then, now they are called "mid-century modern). When I decided to purchase my first house I decided to look for an old house because I thought old homes had more character and probably had more intrinsic value. I have owned three historic homes over the years. During my first trip to Key West I fell in love with this little island that was just filled with old houses. Back then there were a lot of houses that needed restoration. Today many of the older places have been updated. Such is the case with 510 Frances Street in Old Town Key West.

This is how the listing Realtor (and owner) describes 510 Frances Street in Old Town, Key West:
"Stunning and Elegant restoration of a classic large historic home on prestigious Frances Street. An architectural gem featured on the Old Island Restoration Tour of Homes. Quality renovation including new electric, plumbing, roof, central air, pool, spa, designer kitchen and baths. Granite countertops, Sub Zero and stainless appliances. Bright, open floor plan with high ceilings, crown molding, hardwood floors and Dade County Pine walls. Master bedrooms on first and second floors, 3/3 plus office with built-in cabinets. Multiple porches, brick patios, gated off-street parking and lush tropical lot. Located on one of the most desirable streets in Old Town Key West."
This property has 2294 sq ft of living space and sits on a 50' X 74' (3724 sq ft) lot on one of the best streets in Old Town. The houses was renovated in the past five years and has a new roof, plumbing, pool, spa, bricked courtyard, yada, yada, yada. It is priced at $1,695,000 or $739 per sq ft. The character of the house has not changed. The facade is nearly the same today as it was nearly half a century ago.

CLICK HERE for more detailed information on 510 Frances Street and to view photos.

The pool and spa are recent additions to 510 Frances Street

If you would like to see 510 Frances Street or any other house in Old Town Key West, please contact me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. Our office is the Lower Florida Keys exclusive affiliate of Christie's Great Estates.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Just Listed - 304 Julia Street - Key West

304 Julia Street Key West, Florida

The Red X marks the approximate location of 304 Julia Street Key West

Just listed by Preferred Properties is 304 Julia Street located in the Bahama Village area of Old Town Key West. This is how the listing Realtor describes this home:
"Renovated two story Conch House. Upgraded kitchen and bathrooms with wood floors throughout, stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. Large master suite on second floor with additional bedroom and bathroom. Private master suite rear balcony. First floor guestroom with attached bathroom and french doors onto pool deck. Large front porch and upstairs balcony. Covered deck overlooking the heated pool. Fenced for privacy."
This home has three really good sized bedrooms and four real bathrooms. There is even a second floor rear balcony just off the master bedroom perfect for checking out the views of the Atlantic Ocean. The views aren't great, but there is an ocean view. The living room is large and spacious. The kitchen opens into the dining room so the cook can always be part of what is going on elsewhere in the home. This home provides a lot of real usable living space unlike a lot of houses in the Old Town area.

The house comes complete with a heated pool and a nice private deck area. CLICK HERE to read more detailed listing info and to see several photos of this really attractive family-sized home that is priced at $524,900 or $287 per sq ft.

304 Julia Street is located two blocks off of Upper Duval. You can walk to the beach at Ft Zachary Taylor in about 10 minutes or ride your bike in about five minutes. I put up a couple of pics of the beach because it is so damned nice. So what if we don't have crashing waves. We have whispering pines and lots ocean without thousands upon thousands of locals and tourists crowding our beaches (unlike Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Daytona, etc.). Blue Heaven and other neighborhood restaurants are nearby as well.

CLICK HERE to checkout the Key West Association of Realtors mls database. If you see something you like, please consider calling me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties in Key West, Florida.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

903 Southard St -Old Town - Key West

903 Southard Street Key West, Florida

The pool!

Just listed, but not by me, 903 Southard Street in Old Town Key West. This house is priced to meet the market at $550,000 or $924 per sq ft. Read on to see why it will sell right away.

The listing Realtor describes 903 Southard Street this way:
"This cute & adorable renovated Old Town cottage is located on a corner lot and within walking distance of great restaurants, the Key West Bight and Duval Street and clubs. The French doors leading from the living area open onto the tropically landscaped inground pool with lots of privacy. Please note interior of property is approximately 594 sf. Possible encroachment onto property by adjoining rear property."
903 Southard Street has been actively rented as a vacation rental for a couple of years and has a good rental history. The cottage has two bedrooms and one bath. The kitchen opens into the living area. And then there is the pool and courtyard. CLICK HERE for more detailed mls listing info and photos.

The cottage is located at the corner of Southard and Margaret Streets. Mangia Mangia restaurant is located directly across the street. Michael's Restaurant (the tony T-bone joint) is located on the opposite side of Margaret. Five Brothers is located one block to the east; the Historic Key West Seaport is a five minute walk to the north and Duval Street is a five minute walk to the west. You could not ask for a better location. I showed this cottage several times and it is always rented. I've repeatedly ask renters how they like the location and the house. Everybody raves about it. All of the above photos were taken about one year ago.

If you read my blog from yesterday you know there is very little for sale in Key West in the $500,000 range, let alone a good location with a pool. I urge serious buyers to contact me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or by email at I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty Inc. in Key West, Florida.

730 Southard Street - Back on the Market - New Lower Price - Old Town - Key West

730 Southard Street Old Town Key West

Imagine opening your front door to that view every day!
This may be your last chance to grab an iconic Key West property at a reasonable price. The one of a kind property located at 730 Southard Street (which had been under contract) is back on the market and is now offered at $1,100,000 or $388 per sq ft. This is how the listing Realtor describes the property:
" Right in the heart of Old Town Key West sits this jewel of an original Conch home built in the 1800's awaiting your special touch. The history behind this home spans several generations of just one family. The rooms are large, the ceilings are high and everything is original in this two story home including Dade County pine throughout. There's over 2800 square feet of living space including the large master and guest bedrooms upstairs plus the living room, den, study, dining room and kitchen downstairs. The standup attic runs the length of the building with access to the widows walk allowing for a bird's eye view of Old Town. All this plus room for a pool in the back."
The most recent resident was born in and lived in that house for nearly ninety years. She passed away a couple of years ago. Many of her possessions are still located in place throughout the house. The house almost shows like a museum of a life in another distant time. The outside of the house looks ragged and forlorn. But the inside of the house is quite different. Read on.

The house has wonderful wraparound porches on the first and second floors, and there are rear porches on both levels as well. Those porches provide potentially dramatic openings from the historic French doors that open onto the porches. That includes the rear second floor porch just off the master bedroom. The porches all need replaced. Some of the shutters need replaced. But the French doors appeared to be in fine condition and properly located.

Master bedroom in on second floor right
Any renovation of the house would entail all new electric, plumbing, and air conditioning. The house is very large. A local architect told me that he believes three buildings were brought together to make one large structure. (That would explain the two separate formal living rooms on the first floor.) The third floor attic is gigantic. The architect commented that the attic would provide excellent space for location of HVAC.

The Attic is larger and more spacious than many Key West Cottages

The existing bathrooms are very old and very dated. I think there is more than enough room for a creative architect to carve out some very useful bathrooms that meet our modern needs and still preserve the dignity the present structure.

The kitchen is located in a separate building just off the grand dining room. It has three sets of French doors that open onto the William Street side of the property. The room is very large and the ceiling could be vaulted to create a really dramatic area. The kitchen even has an existing fireplace that might become a feature in a renovation
.Kitchen is smaller one story building with 3 sets of French doors shown above

The dining room is likewise located just off the kitchen and next to the front parlor. The living room, on the other and, is a giant room located just to the west of the front door. The living room has French doors that overlook the rear grounds. The dining room, parlor, and living room each have French doors that open onto the wraparound porches on front and the rear as well. The layout is a bit formal for today but the space is entirely useful. Imagine the house re-fitted to meet the needs of 21st Century living complete with existing French doors that open from every room that would over looking the pool and gardens.

Parlor is located just off main entrance and adjacent to the formal dining room

The second floor has enough space for two great bedrooms and baths to compliment the huge master bedroom suite with front and rear balconies. The space for the master suite is just grand. I envision treating the very simple structure in an understated manner. The classic design elements are already there. It is just coming up with a good and useful design for today. There isn't a need to add, but there is a need to edit.

All of the interior has Dade County Pine walls, ceilings, and wood floors. Those rooms look as solid today at they were a hundred years ago. They have not been messed with.The building appeared seemed very structurally sound with the exception of some of the piers that will need to be repaired. (I am not a qualified inspector but I feel comfortable in commenting on things that are easily noticeable.) All of the plumbing and electric needs replaced. HVAC would be all new as it is non existent.

There is no pool. But there is room for a great pool and garden as well. The fence is dilapidated as is the widows walk on the top roof. But you should see the view from up there. You can see the Gulf of Mexico and all of the small homes for blocks and blocks. You could have a great sunrise view from the kitchen of dining room each morning. And in the early evening you could sit on the second floor front porch and watch the sunset.

Room for a large pool and beautiful gardens

View from the Widow's Walk of the Gulf of Mexico

730 Southard Street is a big house with 2838 sq ft of space under roof. It sits on a large 6853 sq ft lot (at the corner of William and Southard Streets) right in the smack dab middle of Old Town. CLICK HERE to read the listing Realtor's description of the property and to see some very good interior and exterior photos.

It's going to take probably a several months and quite a bit of cash to renovate the place. But in the end someone is going to own one of the great beauties of Key West. If you would like to see 730 Southard Street please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. My email address is I can send more photos to serious buyers. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West, Florida. Our office is the exclusive lower Florida Keys affiliate of Christie's Great Estates.


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.