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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

726 Olivia Street - Old Town - Key West

726 Olivia Street -Key West - October 2012

The little one bedroom cottage at 726 Olivia Street just may appeal to the buyer who wants to purchase a modest Key West house that sits on a decent sized lot in a good location and which is located within an easy walking distance to  Duval Street. The cottage has 570 sq ft of living space plus the screen enclosed front porch and a rear porch.  The interior is pretty nondescript. It does have some Dade County Pine.  The listing Realtor states that around 2002 the following improvements were made to the property: electric service panel, new plumbing, new piers and new roof over rear porch & gable. CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet on this property.

 If you like old houses as much as I do you may just fall in love with the rustic feel of the old front porch.  Some people pay a lot of money to create that kind of weathered look. This house comes with it for free. I'm not being flip about that. This place has such a great understated grace.  If I bought the house I would take down the concrete block fence and put a proper white picket fence. And I would try like the dickens to get permission to build a little pool in the backyard. Pools are not  necessity and not all potential owners would want to have to pay for maintaining a pool all year long anyway. 

I showed the property on a rainy afternoon and was unable to take the kinds of photos I would have liked. What intrigued me about this house isn't so much the house - I know it can be made into something very sweet.  That happens all the time here.  Instead it was what you can't see from the street and what a casual passer-by will miss - the backyard and the off street parking spot. I dug deep into the old shoe box and found a photo of the property taken in 1965.  What I found was a photo of the back of the house instead of the front. 

726 Olivia Street (rear view) 1965
I went back to the house on Monday and took a couple of photos of the rear so you could see how much it has changed and yet how much it seems quite unchanged. Note the large second floor balcony of the house next door.

Porch photo taken during the rainy day showing
From back step looking south to rear property line (about 1 ft from other house)
The south property line extends beyond the confines of the lot across the rear of the house next door to the east where the owner of 726 Olivia Street shares a deeded ownership interest in the large parking lot.

CLICK HERE to view more photos of this property. As I said, I didn't take interior photos. If you would like to see this house, please contact me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.  Let me help you find your place in Paradise.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

820 Windsor Lane - Key West

Today I am once again writing about the really cute little house at 820 Windsor Lane in Old Town Key West. This property was previously listed by my company. It did not sell and is now back on the market. The home is offered at $412,000.  I showed this home several times, and I can tell you I am a big fan of this little house and the neighborhood. The listing Realtor describes the property this way:
"Two-story conch home in a great location in the heart of Old Town, on corner lot across the street from the Key West Cemetery. This cozy house features a large bedroom upstairs with half bath. Original historic details include Dade County Pine walls and floors, high ceilings, spacious rooms and covered front porch. House needs TLC and would be a good candidate for renovation project. Tented for termites in 2012".
 820 Windsor Lane is located at the corner of Windsor Lane and Passover Lane

In his book The Streets of Key West: a History through Street Names J. Willis Burke says Poorhouse Lane got its name because "a poorhouse was once tucked away there". I found a photo of this property taken in 1965. Poorhouse Lane is denoted by the unpainted vertical wood fence on the opposite far side of the house. See the photo below. Now look at a similar photos I took in October 2012 looking in the same basic direction and then straight forward. The tired old wood fence on Poorhouse Lane has been replaced by a concrete block wall that is painted red.

820 Windsor Lane as it appeared in 1965
 820 Windsor Lane as it appears in October 2012

Bill Butler Park is located at the end of Poorhouse Lane

 820 Windsor Lane is a two bedroom home that sits on a good sized 40' x 50' lot just across the street from the Key West cemetery. Click GOOGLE MAP for an aerial perspective of the location. The street view is inaccurate as it shows only the fence on Poorhouse Lane. St. Mary's Basilica is located two blocks to the south at the corner of Windsor Lane and Truman Avenue (that's where James Bond parachuted to the church to be best man at his friend's wedding). Bill Butler Park is a short one block walk at the west end Poorhouse Lane. The City of Key West ought to spend more time and more money to maintain this potential gem.When I took photos here on Monday I imagined how wonderful it would be if the city would build a community pool in this seldom used park. There are numerous small cottage homes like this house that do not have pools.

 St. Mary is located at the corner of Windsor Lane and Truman Avenue

Poorhouse Lane ends is one block long and ends at Bill Butler Park
Bill Butler Park
The Historic Key West Seaport is a five or six minute walk to the north. I mention that not because a lot of potential buyers have boats or plan to go on fishing trips or sunset cruises, but because there are many great restaurants there. I love Harpoon Harry's for breakfast and lunch (great "real" hamburgers). A lot of friends are wild about the Half Shell Raw Bar located on the water's edge.

You can walk to Duval Street in about five minutes. The fact is you can be just about any place in Key West within ten minutes by car. You can be most places in Old Town by foot or bike in about the same time. The convenient location and the ability to tweak this house make 820 Windsor Lane very appealing.

Front room used as an office or second bedroom

Open living, dining and kitchen

This home has a very comfortable  Old Key West feel. All of the rooms are natural (unpainted) Dade County Pine walls including ceilings and floors.  The windows and doors are painted white. The window panes are old. The glass has 'stretch marks' that ripple and show the age of the glass. The front room downstairs does double duty as an office/den and second bedroom. The full bath is located on the main floor.  The living room, dining area, and kitchen are one big open space with lots of windows. The master bedroom and an half bath occupy the entire second floor. The front porch has view of the Key West cemetery. The side and back yards are private and spacious. Sadly, there is not room for a pool.

CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet on this property and to view more listing photos. Or you can CLICK HERE for a slide show of more photos I took of this property. Better yet please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule a showing of this cute Conch Cottage. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West, Florida.

Monday, October 29, 2012

1214 16th Terrace - Key West

The home at 1214 16th Terrace in the new town area of Key West will likely appeal to a local buyer or a purchaser relocating to Key West who is looking for a family home. The three bedroom house was built in 1965 and has 1348 sq ft of living space. It sits on a 5700 sq ft (57'x100') lot on a quiet suburban street near the eastern edge of Key West.  Most of the houses in the area are of similar age and original construction. And most of the houses have been updated.

This home is listed by Preferred Properties Key West, that is where I work, but this is not my listing.  The listing Realtor describes the property like this:
" This is a spacious 3 bedroom, 1 bath home located in a quiet, residential neighborhood. The Florida room opens onto a large yard. Off-street parking and convenient to shopping, movie theater and schools."

1214 16th Terrace is offered at just $399,000 or $266 per sq ft which makes it one of the least expensive single family homes for sale in Key West on a price per sq ft basis. CLICK HERE to view the Key West Association of Realtors mls datasheet on this home.

If you would like to see this home or any other property in Key West please consider calling me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.

Friday, October 26, 2012


How in the world could something so innocent as a tiny little metal clicker have to do with buying a house in Key West? How, indeed!

That's Judge Joseph P. Lewis, Betty the division clerk, Velma the court reporter (stenographer), and me. The photo was taken 40 years ago. I was Judge Lewis' legal staff assistant. I had recently graduated from the University of Denver College of Law when the photo was taken. I had passed the bar and was looking for a job as an attorney. I was 25 at that time. I was 5'8" tall and probably weighed 135 pounds.  Look at the pic. I don't look very intimidating, and I certainly never lived up to the nickname my dad gave to me, Butch. What happened one day at the Jefferson County Hall of Justice in Golden Colorado (that's where Coor's Beer is made) may help you understand the importance of the clicker and how it relates to real estate all over the country some forty years later - at least it does in my mind.

Former Jefferson County Hall of Justice
Walkway from former Hall of Justice to Clerk's Office and County Jail
 Judge Lewis' courtroom was on the forth floor (top floor) of the building pictured above right. The county jail was located about 150 feet away in a separate building.  The county clerk's office was situated between the two. The interior of the Hall of Justice was open from the ground floor to the ceiling of the forth floor with courtrooms or administrative rooms situated on all four sides of the building. Interior walls were blond brick. Noise of any sort sounded throughout the building and even filtered into the courtrooms.

One afternoon I was in the hallway outside our courtroom talking to two Deputy District Attorneys.  A man in his 40's or early 50's exited the clerk's office and began clicking a clicker in rapid succession as he walked the hallway heading toward the elevators.  Back then we did not have police or sheriff's officers in the courtrooms or hallways. Nobody had to pass through a metal detector at the entrance to the courthouse.  We had not yet become a society that was afraid of everything and everyone. So there was nobody to stop this metallic madman from disturbing the solemnity of the courthouse.

I left the Deputy D.A.s and moved quickly to the elevator hall where I grabbed the elevator door and braced my right arm against the door to prevent it from closing. I yelled "Ralph, call the Sheriff!"  Ralph was a older man, probably in his sixties, whose office was located just off the elevator lobby. The metallic man was alarmed that I had stopped his exit and began chopping at my arm with his arm, trying to break my hold. He hit me repeatedly. And it hurt like hell.

Steve Worrell, a fellow classmate from law school, came out of his courtroom into the hall to see what was going on. Steve played football in high school and even though he wasn't much taller than me, he was definitely bigger in size and stature, and surely he wasn't the sort of guy you would want to pick a fight with. I wouldn't call myself a wimp, but I was.

Steve reached past my arm and grabbed metallic man by the shirt and quickly waltzed him straight across the hallway into the marble wall.  I think he was about ready to punch the man, but someone either grabbed the man or Steve to prevent things from getting more difficult.Within a couple of minutes a couple of deputy sheriffs arrived. I told them what had happened. They put the man in handcuffs and took him to the county jail.

Later that afternoon I got a phone call from the Captain in charge at the jail that day. He asked me to come over and sign the complaint under which the man had been arrested. When I got there the captain made me an offer. He said I could go inside the holding cell and hit the guy. He even offered to have some guards hold him for me so that I could beat the hell out of him. I am as serious as I can be. I don't lie, and I don't make stuff like this up. I told him no and that was the end of that.

The next day the man was arraigned in the courtroom of Judge Johnson. The Judge had me sworn in and I related what had happened in the hallway. My recollection is that the man admitted what I said was accurate. He was taken away on a mental health hold for three days. I don't recall anything further ever happening in this regard.  But I will never forget the Captain's offer to let me beat up the guy who had hit me.

Many locals in Key West visit the Monroe County Sheriff's webpage CLICK HERE several times a week where we can see who has been arrested and on what charge.  It's not uncommon to see someone we know get picked up for driving under the influence or some other infraction.  Last week I saw someone whose house I wrote about in my blog earlier that week. Sometimes I see images of people that disturb me. See some examples below.

48 years old, disabled, held on municipal ordinance violation

68 years old, arrested for failure to appear

58 years old, arrested for failure to appear

Barbara is 65 years old and was arrested for a municipal ordinance violation

None of the violations would explain the bruises or lacerations to the citizens pictured above. There is no justification in my mind that could possibly permit someone in authority to hurt these people.  These pictures are just examples of what you can and will see on a regular basis of people who are processed through the Monroe County Jail. I'm not saying the Sheriff's officers did this and I am not saying a city policeman hit these people.  Somebody did it.

If you live in Monroe County Florida you get to vote on November 6th to pick a new Sheriff. The incumbent Sheriff is retiring. A Republican and a Democrat are vying to replace him. You can pick the man that enforces the law where we live. Or wherever you live.

I love living in Key West, Florida. I encourage people to move here and fulfill their dream of living in Paradise. But I must warn them not to get arrested for even the least infraction because nobody is safe, especially the least among us. And if you think I am some bleeding heart liberal I will tell you that I am not. I do, however, believe in justice.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

1411 Petronia Street - The Meadows Area of Key West

 The modified Eyebrow House at 1411 Petronia Street was built circa 1896. I dug deep into the old shoe box and found a photo of the house as it appeared in  1965 - see below and then followed by a photo taken this morning.

I wrote about this property a couple of years ago when it was offered as a short sale. I had a friend who lived here so I was very familiar with the odd layout of the house as it used to be. Whenever I showed the former house I would tell prospective buyers things they could do to improve the place. The house property eventually was sold. and the new owner thoughtfully redesigned the house by re-purposing the old rooms into new uses that work with how we live in Key West. When I first walked into the renovated house my jaw dropped!

I had stood in the middle sawtooth addition to the original small eyebrow house many times and told potential buyers what they might do to the property to make the space more functional. Buyers often imagine huge costs and horrendous contractor experiences (too much HGTV home remodel nightmares). The new owner did what I imagined by removing an interior wall between the former kitchen and bathroom located at the rear of the house. A bank of sliding doors is now the rear wall in the kitchen through which the chef and guests can view the  lush tropical pool. The kitchen easily merges into the newly redesigned living area with vaulted ceiling.

The new owner fixed what had been the problem with the house for years by reassigning the use of the front two rooms in the house, both of which were ill conceived and dysfunctional bedrooms. The front door of the original house opened into what was the original living room. That space was later used as the main floor bedroom. A prior renovation added a stairway to the second floor which made the space clumsy and almost too small for a bed. Besides, who wants to enter a home by going in the bedroom? There was another small bedroom suitable for a crib or may usable as an office. The new owner redirected the stairway to the east side of the house where the main entry was relocated forevermore. The crib room was divided and became two new bathrooms. The front bath is en-suite to the bedroom. A second guest bath has entry off the living room which is the main sawtooth addition in the middle.

The upstairs was tweaked and spaces that were funky became ever so inviting. I could not have ever imagined the bathroom in that house could look as wonderful as it became. The door in the middle of the upper bedroom opens out to the  second floor porch that overlooks quiet Petronia Street. I could just imagine how restful it would be to sit there late at night listening to not much of anything.

The new owner cleaned up years of neglect around the pool area. The deck was replaced and an awning added. New tropical plants were added. Two large coconut palms on either side of the pool and the large canopy of trees in the neighboring yard frame the view as if it were a piece of art. It is picture perfect.

I took more photos which you can see if you CLICK HERE. 1411 Petronia Street is offered for sale at $949,000. CLICK HERE to view the Key West Association of Realtors mls datasheet and to view the listing photos.

1411 Petronia Street is located three blocks east of White Street. It's a long walk or a quick bike ride over to Duval Street or the Seaport. Most of the island's gyms and yoga studios are located within a few blocks which makes it an easy walk to do your daily exercise routine. Bayview Park is a couple of blocks to the south. The city's bandstand and public tennis courts are located there as well. This is a very nice and comfortable neighborhood where most of the homes have been updated. While this home does not have off street parking, parking is not a problem here. Most of the houses are single family and there are no commercial activities competing for on street parking. I do believe this home would make a wonderful vacation rental. It has everything a vacation renter could want.

If you would like to see this nifty home, please contact me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West, Florida. If you snooze on this, you will lose and that is a fact. This is a real buying opportunity.


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.