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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

630 Elizabeth Street - The House at the Top of Solares Hill - Key West

Frequent readers will recall my former listing at 630 Elizabeth Street (above). The house sits at the very top of Solares Hill - the highest point on the Island of Key West. Passers-by could not help notice how badly she looked. The big old girl was in the process of getting a major face lift as well as new dentures, a tummy tuck, hip replacement, intestinal bypass, and breast augmentation. I kid you not (well just a little). I represented the former owner who bought this big old girl when it was bank owned. That owner decided to sell rather than renovate. The new (current) owner started a major renovation and now that owner has put the property back on the market at the asking price of $650,000 or $328 per sq ft which makes it the least expensive property for sale in Old Town on a per square foot basis. 
630 Elizabeth Street built circa 1887, photographed in 1965

This big old building was traditionally a two unit. In the very old days the downstairs unit was a neighborhood store. Presumably the owner lived on the second floor. Judging from the interiors when I had this property listed for sale, I would guess the interiors were updated in the 1970s.  The front porch on the second level was unsafe and it was removed.  The main level had some noticeable foundation issues and it was the probably the cost of fixing the foundation more than any other issue that deterred most of the potential buyers who looked and lusted after this old house.

The listing Realtor describes the property today as:
"Historical renovation project 1.5 blocks from Duval street, built in 1887 located at the highest point in Key West on the top of Solares Hill. The seller began the renovations on a legal duplex and has plans already in place which would convey with the sale. The property also has plans to be turned back into a single family home. The seller has lifted the property up and renovated the footers/subfloor, leveled the home and placed it back down. Inside is now stripped down to just the shell so it is prepared for the floor plan of your choice.2nd floor views looking down Solares Hill are extraordinary. Plans Provide for 2300 sq ft of Living Space upon Completion of Remodel plus Porches&Siding (Exc20%of Existing)."
The photos immediately below show an example of balloon framing where the exterior. Them the second floor is then added. And finally interior framing and part ions are added at the end.  In this instance, the second floor balcony will get replaced and new and the old columns either replaced or repaired.
Early photo showing balloon framing
Something akin to intestinal bypass
I hosted many open houses when I listed this property. Most were lookers - not real buyers. But those that looked and have nerve enough to peer out through the second floor (Dutch door) got to see the views that only 630 Elizabeth Street can offer of Old Town.  Take a peek.
I dug through my old shoebox and gathered lots of photos of 630 Elizabeth Street which you can see if you CLICK HERE. Those photos will give a potential buyer the opportunity to compare the house as it existed with the way it looks today.  The property today is vastly improved from the way it was when it was purchased. The hard work has been done. Plans exist and are in place to complete the renovation. But a new owner could change things - even at this late date. The fun part awaits a new owner.
CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet and to view listing photos. This property is listed by Scott Forman who kindly gave me permission to write about it in my blog.  If you are interested in seeing this property please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. 


Anonymous said...

Sells for $320k just over 14 mos ago and doesn't appear to be much further along in restoration? I realize values are increasing 15-20% YoY, but triple digit?

Curious as to how much was expended by the seller and as to why they selling versus completing...

Gary Thomas said...

The sale included assets sold not shown in the public record. Your assumption of total price is incorrect.

The big expense and uncertainty is over in my opinion.

There were offers from potential buyers who resented my seller's potential gain. They were angry that the seller would make so much money for so little work or risk. They lost out. I see this property as a second chance for those buyers and a new opportunity for someone who wants a project that will end up being the big house on the hill with the incredible view.

This house could easily be a great vacation rental. It has great street appeal (when renovated and dolled up) and it is within easy walking distance to all of Old Town.

Look at the mls and compare the size and location of this big house to some of the smaller houses located in inferior locations. Maybe then you will appreciate the $328 per sq ft asking price.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification, Gary. I figured there was something else and not just unbridled capitalism at play.

Anonymous said...

is there any yard in the back or any room for a pool?

Gary Thomas said...

Sorry for the delay in responding to your question. There would be room in the rear for a poof if you are able to obtain permission to tear down the rear addition to the building. When I had this property listed I had offers from two different local architects that had both sat as official members of HARC. One said an owner could tear down the rear addition and the other said it could not be torn down. The house by itself is huge. The addition is superfluous. I would try to get permission to make it go away.


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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.