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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Son of More Projects of Key West

Don't you hate sequels that never live up to the first movie or book? Or, maybe in this instance, a blog post on the projects of Key West. I hope that is not the case. I last updated readers on the progress (or slowness) of some construction projects going on in the Old Town and Casa Marina areas on February 25th.  Nearly five months have passed. It's time to check-up on the projects of Key West.

The historic and quite photogenic home at 618 Eaton Street (above) recently went under contract. An agent in my office is the selling Realtor. It will be really interesting to see what happens to this old house. Stay tuned.

The Eyebrow house at 618 Grinnell Street is undergoing a thorough renovation from ground up. The house was elevated and new piers installed earlier this year. New decks are being added on the sides and rear, and a pool is being installed for the very first time.  An interior wall in the front of the house that was removed many years ago is being re-installed.  The entire interior is being transformed as well. I am so excited about what this home will look like.

618 Grinnell Street

New Piers Being Installed

Back on the Ground, New Pool and Decks Added
 Nipper's Painting contractor did lots of prep work to get this house prepared for the luscious new paint job.

 Eyebrow houses are unique to Key West. I just love them.  This one is going to be spectacularly understated.

911 Watson Street - Old Town
911 Watson Street as it appeared a couple of years ago
Early on in the development of this extra large lot

I wrote about this property a couple of times over the several year period when it was offered for sale. The original house had numerous additions and porches plus two out buildings of significant size. The 10,000 sq ft lot was densely over-grown with vegetation. The property was truly a 'project' of epic proportions. Most of the additions and porches were removed, the other structures were leveled, and the grounds were cleared. New structures are being added. Local architect Matthew Stratton designed this project.

 The cigar maker's cottage in the foreground looks to be all that remains of the original buildings (except for the parking structure on the left). The former owner told me that he hand dug the forty foot swimming pool that snaked across the north side of the grounds. Gone too is an odd addition at the rear that sort of functioned as a bedroom of sorts. And the wrap-around porch on the south side of the original cottage is no more.

Now we are seeing a group of connected buildings that look a bit dissimilar to the original cottage. They jut off at different angles, heights, sizes, diverse architectural styles that suggest they might have been as "additions" over a period of years to the original house. Except we know that is not the case. I definitely want to know more about this property.

909 Flagler Avenue - Casa Marina Area

Pictured below is the progression from almost barren ground to the semblance of a new estate type property in the tony Casa Marina Area of Key West. The property was previously the location of a local church which sustained wind damage during Hurricane Wilma.

That building and two smaller wood frame buildings were demolished to create a 10,381 sq ft building lot (98' x 106'). The property is located adjacent to the truly historic Reynolds property next door to the left.

Local architect Matthew Stratton designed this new property that looks somewhat like an assemblage of cottages that somehow became connected into a much larger living space. What an interesting concept. We often see houses in Old Town where new additions have been added to an existing structure. In many instances those additions are referred to as ''sawtooth" additions. Here the structures are placed in different spaces and at different and divergent angles to the street. If the roofs were flat instead of gabled, we might view the structures as just another modern house. Instead, our eyes are drawn to this property because to me at least it confuses our sense of normalcy. The sight of this site is eye-catching.

 924 Flagler Avenue - Casa Marina Area

Across the street at 921 Flagler Avenue the owner is doing a very subtle renovation of a one-of-a-kind home that was built in the 1920s when the Reynolds House on the corner at what is now Reynolds Street and the Casa Marina Hotel (across Reynolds Street) were among the very few abodes in the Casa Marian Area. One family owned that property until the current owner purchased it a couple of years ago. The house recently had a new roof installed which is being complemented by new copper gutters and copper trim.  The original wood sash windows are being replaced with custom manufactured mahogany windows with hurricane wind resistant glass. These new windows will qualify this home for maximum windstorm insurance mitigation credits but will still retain the charm of this elegant home.

All of the second floor windows have been replaced. You cannot tell the replacements from the original windows. I am eager to see the new mahogany windows which will replace the paladin windows on the sun porch and the jalousie windows that now occupy that space. This is going to be really interesting.

It's really wonderful that this owner spent the time and money to preserve the look and character of this property. The new roof and copper gutters will likely last way into the next century but will reflect back on a home that was built just before the Florida Keys endured the worst hurricane in recorded history.  Passersby may not appreciate the money spent on the new mahogany windows because they look just like what was always there. But that is the point in doing a restoration, isn't it?

411 Grinnell Street - Old Town

Over the past several years I have shown other houses that were listed for sale in the 400 block of Grinnell Street. Each potential buyer would point at the house at 411 Grinnell Street and ask something like "When will that ever change?" implying that 411 Grinnell was an eyesore that needed repair.  It did, and it is going to get the needed repair and then some.  Two local property developers recently purchased the house at 411 Grinnell Street and the adjacent lot with small cottage. The owners are going through the plan approval process now. I expect this property to be another very tasteful renovation in a great Old Town Key West location.

 517 Elizabeth Street - Old Town
517 Elizabeth Street as it appeared in 1965
517 Elizabeth Street - July 2012

The same developers that are redoing 411 Grinnell Street are renovating this century old house that is located on one of the best blocks in Old Town Key West. HARC recently approved the demolition of the uber-attractive garage at the rear as well as other additions to the property and provided for a tasteful revival of the facade and interiors of this home.  These developers have completed several renovations in Key West. They always do really great work.

1016 James Street - Old Town
 1016 James Street photographed by the WPA in the 1930s
Two years ago - a wretched mess!
 This house, like 618 Grinnell Street mentioned above, was jacked up so that new piers could be installed to give this old house new stability.

Same house, same location, July 2012

 The original house has been expanded, a pool added, a "historic" cottage at the corner saved from destruction.
The house is re-emerging as a thing of beauty, a delight to behold.
The little shack at the rear is evolving into a petite poolside cottage.

615 Thomas Street - Bahama Village

An owner's dream, an architect's vision, and a builder's skills are creating a new house. We don't get the opportunity to see very many new houses in Key West.

Elizabeth's End
It looks like the renovation at the home located at the corner of Elizabeth at Fleming Street has been completed. The house is stunning.

I'll close today's post by showing a couple of photos of a commercial property located in the 1200 block of White Street. The property was recently purchased and the new owner will reportedly open a motor scooter store in this location. I wrote about the property well over a year ago. I hoped some new owner would do something great with the property. I am pessimistic about what will now happen or maybe I should say 'not happen'.

If you are thinking of buying a property in Key West, please consider working with me, Gary Thomas. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.  Let me help you find your place in Paradise.


Anonymous said...

Superb follow-up!

Anonymous said...

What about 730 United? I liked that renovation at first, but it now looks like it's on steroids. I can't believe HARC approved it.

Gary Thomas said...

Dear Anon, I have been taking pics of 730 United as well. I was amazed at how large a space this once small house has become. There are strict lot usage rules and it looks to me like this space has grown beyond the limit of what is permissible. I am not sure what happened is so much a HARC issue, however. If 730 United is not a contributing structure, HARC may have left the matter purely in hands of the Key West Planning Board. Contact the Blue Paper and ask them them to inquire. They are good at finding how things get done in Key West that sometimes defy logic elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gary. Thanks for the great update. Do you have any information regarding the large renovation on Southard? I think the property is at the corner of William. Thanks again.

Gary Thomas said...

Dear Anon, I probably will write a separate blog on 730 Southard Street. I have been taking lots of progress photos, except the progress has been stuck because the owners have been having some difficulties with getting HARC approval to resolve an issue that arose after the renovation plans were approved.

I don't want to misstate anything or get my sense of what is transpiring confused with real facts. And facts can sometimes be confused by the perception of the person hearing or reading a purported fact. So I think it is best for me to hold back for just a bit longer. The house, however, looks stunning.



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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.