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Friday, September 13, 2013

415 Bahama Street - Old Town Key West - Tropical Oasis with 4 Transient Licenses

Just listed, but not by me, 415 Bahama Street in the Old Town area of Key West. I found what I believe to be 415 Bahama Street on the 1889 Sanborn Fire Map of Key West. The houses were not numbered the same in 1889 as they are today. But the location of the house is in scale with the other properties that are (or were) located on that block.  If you love "old houses", you're gonna really love this one.
 In his book The Streets of Key West J. Willis Burke tells us that in the past Bahama Street was previously known as Chicken Bone Alley and that long time ago a Chinese hand laundry and small cigar factory were also located in this block.  I dug into the old shoe box and found a photo that dates back to around 1900 which shows 415 and 417 Bahama Street.  Today a small parking lot separates 415 and 417 Bahama Street.

 The black and white photo above shows 415 Bahama Street as it appeared in 1965. You can see that the second floor front porch was semi-enclosed after the 1900 photo was taken.  The "new" louvers provided more living space on what was the second floor porch or balcony.  Several larger Old Town homes had second floor porches enclosed with louvers during World War II. This allowed homeowners to rent theses spaces out as bedroom to the military whose population here swelled during the war. 
 I went back to the shoe box to find a photo of a vintage photo of a similarly designed Bahama house that is located at 730 Eaton Street (corner of Eaton and William Street).  Bahama style houses are noted for the expansive porches and multiple French doors that permit air to enter the house from all directions which  provides natural cooling from the heat and shelter from the rain. The second image (immediately above) is of the same house as it was immortalized in post card fashion.

The listing Realtor describes 415 Bahama Street as:
"A diamond in the Rough. A historical building in the heart of Old Town with 4 Transients Units. A great income producing property. Lots of Dade County Pine, Huge and private Courtyard with room for a pool and more parking spaces if desired. The units rent nightly. Half block from Duval, a couple blocks from the Seaport, just steps from the shops, restaurants and excitement of Duval Street without the noise. Established property manager. Unit 1 is a bright, sunny, 3 bedrooms, 2 bath. Unit 2 is second floor 2 Bedrooms, 2 bath with a den and huge balcony. Unit 3 is first floor 2 bedrooms, 1 bath with one of the bedrooms being huge. Unit 4 is 2 bedrooms, 2 Bath and 2 living/ Flex rooms. Very unique set up to maximize income."

According to the Key West mls datasheet CLICK HERE to view, 415 Bahama Street has 3672 sq ft of living space under roof capable of being air conditioned.  The lot is 5983 sq ft (an irregular 57.67' x 83.83').  The front of the house sits very close to the property line. I would guesstimate the rear yard to be 57.67' x 24" which may provide room for a sizable pool and deck area.  There are three large trees which a new owner would need to address as part of any redevelopment of this parcel. The space is quite large and offers significant development potential rarely available in Old Town.

The house is divided with two units on the ground floor. The front unit consists of a living area with kitchen, dining area, and three bedrooms. This unit is the only one that has use of the front porch.
Main level front living room and kitchen
Main level front left bedroom
First floor private outdoor area

If I purchased this property I would remodel this space into something more gracious than presently exists. In my opinion the rear unit would be the "money room" with direct views of the pool. I would add French doors across the rear and relocate the stairway to the second floor rear unit. During earlier days, the two bedrooms on the right side were a "separate unit" with access to the rear porch.  The old door still exists, but the space today is rented as a single unit.

Second floor front unit rear bedroom
Second floor front bedroom
Second floor front porch partitioned into sleeping areas

Imagine the louvers removed and the front balcony restored
 The second floor is similarly divided between front and rear units. The front unit (shown above) is accessed via side exterior staircase that enters into the living area. This space includes two bedrooms, bath, and the second floor front porch which as been enclosed and partitioned into three small sleeping areas. If I purchased this property, I would remove the louvers and open the space back up. This would add street appeal to the house and provide interior light to the second floor which is currently missing. The bonus effect would be to provide guests with private outdoor space and some great people watching opportunities. If you compare the house as it presently exists with the photos of the classic home at 730 Eaton Street, you may appreciate my vision as to how significant the removal of the louvers would impact this home. Instead of cramming heads in beds, a new owner could create an elegant private oasis near Duval Street.
The second floor rear is absolutely beautiful. The entire space is a mix of Dade County Pine and bead board which provides a very warm Old Key West charm that is sorely missing in so many of the new "renovations".  This portion of the house reminds me of how houses looked like when I first started looking at houses in the 1980s - a time before granite and stainless steel overtook the island.
Most of the original clapboard siding has been covered over with asbestos shingles which are perfectly fine if left alone. They cause no harm to any person in their present state. However, being the person I am, I would remove the shingles and restore the wood siding for a more correct historic look to the property.  I would extend the balcony along the south side of the house so that the entrance to the rear unit could be relocated to enter into the living area instead of a hallway that presently takes up a lot of valuable interior living space. Finally, I would add a pool at the rear.
Estimate 57' x 24' rear yard for redevelopment
Off street parking for at least three full size cars
CLICK HERE to view all of the photos I took of this very large Old Town property. (Click any photo to enlarge.) 415 Bahama Street has four valuable Transient Rental Licenses which permits daily rental of each living space throughout the year and without any limitation.  This property is offered for sale at $1,850,000.

I offered my opinion as to what I might do to improve the property and to perhaps boost the income potential. I must state that nothing needs to be done.  The property functions fine the way it is. I really mean it when I say I love the old Key West feel this property provides.  I just think it could be such a better property if a few improvements were added.

If you would like to see this property in person or if you would like more information, please contact me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or send me an email at  I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.  

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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.