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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

319 Grinnell Street - Bank Owned - Key West

319 Grinnell Street - Old Town - Key West - Bank Owned

Just listed, but not by me, 319 Grinnell Street near the Historic Key West Seaport. This house is Bank Owned. I expect multiple offers on this very interesting property because of its low offering price of just $299,500, and the fact that it has three key features most second home buyers want in a Key West house: (1) style, (2) pool, and off street parking. The listing Realtor describes this house this way:
"Fantastic Location In Key West! Walk To The Water, Water Activities, Shops, And Entertainment. Boasting 944 Sq Ft This Two Bedroom Two Bathroom Single Family Home Sits On A 3220 Sq Ft Lot. Quaint And Cozy. This Fannie Mae Property Is Approved For A Homepath Renovation Mortgage. Owner Occupants Close By October 31 2011 And Request Up To 3.5% In Seller Paid Closing Costs. Restrictions Apply."
319 Grinnell Street in Old Town Key West as it appeared in 1965

319 Grinnell Street in September 2011

The Monroe County Property Appraiser's property card on this house says it was built in 1924 and that it has 944 sq ft of living space. I question both the year of construction and size. This house has design and structural elements that suggest it is much older, probably in the late 1880s. It is located a little over a block away from the seaport near other houses built in the 1880s which have similar features. I did the math and checked the square footage using the Appraiser's house map and found the square footage was actually 1594 sq ft vs the 944 sq ft shown on the property card. If my 'math' on the square footage is correct, the asking price on a sq ft basis would be $187 per sq ft instead of $317. The lot is 40'x80.5' or 3220 sq ft. I mention the size not to question the listing Realtor's data because it is automatically extracted from the Property Appraiser's database. Instead, I use the size to alert Readers that this house is bigger than the data suggests and warrants serious consideration. CLICK HERE to compare the architectural elements and construction date of a very similar house also just listed and located only a couple of blocks to the west at 311 William Street . It was constructed in 1852. (The dormers on 311 William Street are not original to the house. And 311 William Street has been meticulously renovated to the highest of standards. Otherwise, the similarities between the two houses are remarkable.)

Here's the bad news. This house has been screwed around with by some past owner that carved the house into three living units. The main floor has a very interesting Victoriana front room with a kitchen located at the end. The front room and the adjacent bedroom have Dade County Pine walls, ceiling, and floor. A bathroom is tucked off to the side. It has a glass block walled shower and disassociated hippie 'style' elements. Someone created a passage way by removing drywall to enter into a second living space at the rear. This space is one big living area more typical of a studio apartment. It has a large newer kitchen and an open living area with lots of windows and doors that look out to the pool at the rear. Oh, it has a functional toilet that sits in the corner, but there is no sink or shower. Nor is there any walls or partition to provide any privacy. A third living space is accessed from a side doorway located on the north side of the house. The stairway is narrow and steep and probably not constructed to code. It looks like this space was another studio apartment with a mini-kitchen, bath, and bedroom. Two scuttles on either side of the bedroom date this space to pre-1924 vintage construction in my opinion.

I mentioned that this house has a pool. It does. The pool has 'hippie roots' if ever I saw one. It sits out of the ground a bit. I doubt that a building permit was pulled on the pool when it was built. In fact I doubt any permits were pulled when any of the 'renovations' were done to this house when it was carved into three living units. Because of this I suspect much if not all of the electric and plumbing will need to be replaced to bring this house to code. There is no air conditioning. I can tell you I was sweating when I took photos you can see if you CLICK HERE.

The hippie pool
If you think I am suggesting that potential buyers avoid this house the answer is I am not. I think this is a great project house. It needs new windows and doors. The old roof looks great but a new roof would mean lower windstorm insurance rates. The clapboard siding looks pretty solid but needs some repairs. The windows need replaced. And the HVAC needs checked out. I suspect all will need replaced. The front could be dolled up by replacing the odd concrete front porch and adding shutters. A white picket fence and editing the overgrown foliage would sharpen the look of this place. The back yard could be wonderful. I would eliminate the pool and put a new one in but that is a matter of choice. There is an old out building that could become the new laundry room or maybe a pool house bar. There is an old fish pond that looks intriguing as do some huge tropical plants. This space could become something very special. Oh, there is off street parking on the side.

If you are interested in buying a place like this, please consider working with me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or by email at I am a buyer's agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Reatly, Inc. in Key West. Don't dilly dally on this because you will lose out. Don't make a mistake and try to get this place on the cheap. I expect the house will sell quickly and above the asking price.


Anonymous said...


Funny you should mention 311 William Street. To me that house just has so much darn key west charm. One of the best houses I've seen come on the market in a long time!

Gary Thomas said...

The two houses are very similar in original construction and both are located a similar distance from the water. One has been carefully renovated and the other somewhat mutilated. I think 319 Grinnell could become a very charming single family home with many features that the William Street house has but at a substantially lower price.

Anonymous said...

How loud is the bar directly across the street?

Anonymous said...

That's a great point. Looks like the bar has lots of open windows, balconies and outdoor patio area. Regardless, at this price I'm sure the place will sell quickly just as Gary predicts.

Gary Thomas said...

The Bar is Finnegan's Wake. Irish.

They have guest bands sometimes. The have food every day. It's like a lot of other Key West bars. It's an institution.

Most folk claim to be Irish on St. Patrick's Day. It would help if to be so if you owned this house on that day.

By the way I often write about houses by the cemetery where it peace and quiet is a certainty.


Anonymous said...

Any bar in Key West is LOUD! And you can either put up with bar bands, scooters, motorcycles with loud pipes/ no mufflers, drunks taking liberty in your bushes, empty bottles, cans, trash and the odd scratch & dent on your new car while living in Old Town or not.

I spent too many years living downtown til I had the sense to move and make a tidy profit. Still live in Key West but am much happier and much more at peace since I no longer have to put up with drunks and homeless on my doorstep and sidewalk every morning and every night.

Anonymous said...

I agree - NEVER live next or near a bar or restaurant in a tourist town. You are only asking for trouble. And if you do DON'T COMPLAIN when you awaken at 3am by some over-liquored fool singing at the top of his voice. It isn't what I call music.


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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.