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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Key West Hotels Closed for Renovation


A couple of days ago I showed a home at the Key West Golf Club. As we crossed over Cow Key Channel and approached the Island of Key West, I was surprised as I drove forward only to see piles of building rubble.  Several of the1960s and 1970s era hotels built at the triangle where US 1 and Roosevelt Boulevard meet were in various stages of demolition or renovation.  As my car headed westerly toward Old Town I saw more hotels were closed, some with the front facades ripped off.  Then I recalled that an investor group had purchased these hotels several months ago and announced plans for a major renovation of the properties. 

I found one article that discussed the renovation project which you can read if you CLICK HERE. The short version is that a Charleston investor group purchased the Days Inn, Quality Inn, Lexington Hotel, and Quality Inn.  According to the article, the combined hotels had 534 guest rooms and 155 employees.  Plans called for extensive renovation and put a price tag of $30 million to complete the project.



Yesterday afternoon I went back to the area to take some photos for this blog. The Days Inn remains standing, but the room facades are all gone. Some last remnants of the Holiday Inn still stood on Tuesday, but the giant wrecker was well on its way to total destruction of that property as well. The Lexington Hotel still stands, but it is an ugly reminder to the architecture of the 1960s when boxy "architecture" ruled. Two more big hotels are being gutted for similar renovation.  CLICK HERE too see all of the photos. 


As we drove toward Old Town I told my buyers that on August 28th I blogged about the sale of the Southernmost Hotel Group for $184 million and that in May the Pier House Resort and Spa were sold for $90 million. CLICK HERE.

I went back to the hotel-motel project to take photos mid afternoon on Tuesday. We don't see a lot of construction like this on our little island. When I returned home I began searching for old photos of the same area. They show the development of the general vicinity over the decades starting during the Great Depression followed by World War II aerial photos. The final photo was taken in 1970s.  It shows the original Holiday Inn where the current Beachside Resort is now situated.  The salt ponds had been filled in. Two of the four hotels had been built when the color photo was taken.
The two above photos show North Roosevelt Boulevard as it curves westerly toward Old Town. These photos were taken in the 1930s by members of the WPA (Works Progress Administration). The motels and hotels would later be built to the rear and just to the left of this area. 
The above aerial photo shows US 1 as it crosses over Cow Key Channel and curves to the right as it leads toward Old Town. The triangular parcel to the right was later filled and expanded. The original Holiday Inn was built on this site and later demolished to make way for the Beachside Condominiums. The area to the near south became the Naval hospital.  The Casa Roma is located to the far south. That area was later more fully developed into single family homes, condominiums, and time shares.  
1941
Roosevelt Boulevard is seen at the junction with US 1. The curve to the right is now known as North Roosevelt Boulevard and South Roosevelt Boulevard heads the opposite direction. The adjacent salt ponds to the west were filled and became the base on which the hotels and motels were built. 
1945

1960


After I finished taking the photos I returned to my car which I had parked at the Marriott Beachside Resort. I think the Beachside Resort is very attractive. The grounds are always meticulously maintained.  Little berms covered with neatly trimmed grass, tall palms, and tropical foliage make the resort landscaping a standout.  As I neared my car I wondered whether the renovations across Roosevelt Boulevard would include similar lush landscaping and whether the hotels would look any more interesting than they did before the renovation. These hotels mark the entrance to our little town. I hope that the developer does more than update the rooms and clean up the facades.  



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Gary Thomas in a Nutshell

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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.