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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Projects of Key West - an Update

Every few months I like to update my readers and potential buyers about the construction projects underway in Key West.  We live on an island with strict limits on growth and development. The historic district has very restrictive guidelines for the improvement or redevelopment of old houses and buildings.  The city building code has limitations on height, size, elevation, and density as related to each site.  Preserving a cute little Conch Cottage can turn a simple little project into a BFD for some owners.  Yet buyers continue to buy old houses with the dream of remaking a bit of old Key West just a bit better.  Today we view the status of what has occurred since last May.

In 2010 a bank owned house at 1021 Fleming Street was listed for $321,750.  It had ten cash offers higher than asking price and sold for $400,000 after only a few days on the market. I wrote an offer for one buyer. He bid too low.  Dang it!  Over the past year the house has steadily been renovated and now appears near completion.

1117 Stump Lane in 1965
A few months ago I wrote about the house for sale at 1117 Stump Lane. I said "Budget buyers who are looking for a place they can move right into and do a little bit of fix-up over time or a buyer who wants to do a major renovation ought to take a look at this home." I then added "This is a property that will probably go under contract as soon as you can say "Jumping Jack Flash" because it is priced to sell and there are a lot of buyers who are getting desperate for a deal." It went under contract the first week it was listed. Please view the photos below which show this house mid-way through renovation.

The "little cottage that could" at 525 Grinnell Street (below) is getting a substantial renovation. The old roof was replaced by a shiny new metal roof. Many of the old piers were replaced and the exterior siding was thoroughly prepped and prepared for a quality paint job. Even though the interior had been updated within the past ten years, the new owner "un-did" the re-do and is re-doing it to perfection. Perfection costs money and the redo process is dragging out a bit. The original house shown in the 1965 photo below had a wood front porch. Some later owner added a concrete porch with those lovely 1960s vintage concrete blocks.  The present owner got permission to remove the concrete blocks and to rebuild a new wood porch. That will make the renovation as near perfect as one can get. 

The grand old Conch house across the street at 522 Grinnell Street seems to have stopped for a time.  The owner started an ambitious remodel of one of the largest old homes in Key West. This house was built to grand proportions with tall ceilings, a fireplace, formal dining room, and bay windows on either side of the main floor. The owner added a new rear two story porch which may eventually overlook a pool. The backyard has room for a pool, but so far there is no evidence a pool is intended.
 522 Grinnell Street had been gutted on the inside. The very tall ceilings, ancient crown moldings, and simple but elegant architectural detail remained in tact on the inside. A decrepit old addition at the rear was removed and an out building and garage were torn down. The remaining rear lot left room for a new first and second story porch at the rear. There is plenty of room for a pool.
May 2013
August 2013 - paint is starting to peel
One of the most beautiful houses in town is getting a pretty little sister.  Locals watched the renovation of 730 Southard Street that seemed to take "for-ever".  The renovation was completed just before Christmas in 2012.  As large as 730 Southard Street appears from the street, it does not have enough bedrooms for guests. The owners purchased the adjacent cottage at 608 William Street and began the remodeling of that space into something much larger than one might have imagined possible. I showed 608 William Street several times years ago and even wrote about it in my blog.  It had benefited from a "light fluff".  It was painted and had little do-dads added that made it look as cute as a button. However, the small rooms and old electric and plumbing ached for a major rehab.  And that is what is occurring.
December 2012
December 2012
608 William Street - 1965

608 William Street - 1970s
608 William Street - 2008
Click on any photo to enlarge.  If you do you will notice the re-building of this home in place from the piers to the wood super structure. Note the removal of the rear covered and screened outdoor living area.  A new addition has been introduced toward the rear of the driveway.  

 A brand new house was built from the ground up at 710 Windsor Lane.  The home that previously occupied this space was not old enough or architecturally interesting to be classified as a contributing structure.  Permission was granted to tear down the old place and to construct a new two story home on Solares Hill.  The lot was extra large and that gave the owner the opportunity to build an extra large home.

The house shown above was built in 1954. It was demolished and the foundation for a new residence was poured on the quite large lot (5674 sq ft) located near the top of Solares Hill.

Construction complete and new owner is now in residence. If only all other construction could be so easy....

Speaking of which another old house at 625 Margaret Street is being reborn from the ground up. All of the old house was torn down with the exception of the historic roof and two framed windows at the front. The rest of the house and all of the exterior lot was carted away to make room for the new houses.  The giant tree in front remains.  It forms the focal point for the development that is ongoing.

The old building was razed but the roof  and fireplace were maintained. I started taking photos the week the new framing was added to support the roof. I go back by this property every few weeks to take progress photos. I was amazed to see how large a house is being built on this quite large lot.

If you are thinking of buying a fixer or a place that is move-in ready, please call 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. 


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update Gary! I've been curious as to 525 Grinnell. That was a very good deal - glad to see the new owner is taking care of it.

We noticed 625 Margaret on our last trip a few months ago. Very surprising to see such a "skeletal" structure in the historic area. Do you the background on why the took it so far back?

Love the blog - take care

Gary Thomas said...

Dear Anon,

Anyone can search the HARC meeting records for any property. In response to the question on 625 Margaret Street I found the following:

File #: 13-3862 Version: 1
Type: Action Items
Title: Demolition of non-historic structures- #625 Margaret Street- Bender and Associates (H13-01-57)
Mover: Maggie Gutierrez Seconder: Theo Glorie
Result: Pass
Agenda note:
Minutes note:
Action: Approved
Action text: A motion was made by Ms. Gutierrez, seconded by Mr. Glorie, that the Action Item be Approved. The motion carried by the following vote:
Theo Glorie Yes
Donna Bosold Yes
Maggie Gutierrez Yes
Daniel Metzler Yes
Michael Miller Yes
Rudy Molinet Yes

I do know that in some instances some old houses are 'so far gone' that saving a couple of strong structural parts can become the basis for a significant remodel. I don't know the specifics on this particular property. Many of the HARC meetings are recorded there was no video available on this one. Simply Google City of Key West with the "+" mark then add the street address. That will let you see HARC meeting minutes on most properties.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip!

Anonymous said...

Good post Gary. Always look forward to this post. I've been curious about 525 Grinnell also. Any idea if this cute place is gonna be up for sale when it's done?

FloridaAG said...

The Windsor Lane house looks great. I have been watching it go up and the louvered second floor decking is really neat.

My own construction project is starting soon.

Gary Thomas said...

I do not think 525 Grinnell will be offered for sale. I sold this house to the current owner who is investing a lot of money on the redo.

Anonymous said...

OK, go to the City of Key West website and click on legislative calendar for the meetings of the Planning Board, the Development Review Committee, the Tree Commission, HARC, etc. You can find not only the agenda items but the minutes (if any) and video of the meetings. Or, call them and speak to the HARC planner or the admin for HARC for something up to date. You can also walk in and view the files for a particular property as they are available for the public - they have to be. You can also email your concerns or your objections to a property if you can not make a meeting and have it included for the record. My two cents - you would be surprised at what goes on around here!


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.