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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

622 Grinnell Street ~ Key West

If you have been thinking of buying one of the few remaining  untouched Grand Conch Houses in Key West, may I suggest that you consider looking at the 622 Grinnell Street. This place is in pretty much original condition, and it is loaded with charm. You won't see stainless steel appliances, marble, or granite anywhere. You will see original Dade County Pine walls, high ceilings, ancient original windows with window panes that ripple, wood floors that slope a bit in some places, porches in front, in back, on the side, and up high. You will be amazed at the awesomeness of this old house. If your are a pessimist by nature, don't look. All you will see is the work and the money you will spend.  But if you are an optimist, you must look. You will see the innate beauty of this old place where you can use your creative juices to create a wondrous new living space for generations to follow.
622 Grinnell Street is listed by Preferred Properties Key West, but it is not my listing. The listing agent describes the house this way:
"Wonderful, original conch home with three legal units. Great location and superb street presence. Access to the rear cottage is from a lane.Possible conversion back to single family and would be a really spectacular property as such. Opportunity to work with a property that has been maintained while leaving a Key West flavor."
I did a second review of the Sanborn Fire Maps of Key West and learned that 622 Grinnell Street first appeared in the 1892 edition. It could have built several years before that because, for some strange reason, that block of Grinnell Street was omitted in the 1889 edition. Anyway, we know the house existed in 1892.  I found a photo of the property that was taken in 1965.  Compare that black and white photo to a photo I took a couple of months ago. 
The property consists of the main house on Grinnell Street and the rear (guest) cottage on Canfield Lane. The main house does not have (and may have never had) an interior staircase. I have shown this property several times and have been unable to find any evidence of a prior interior staircase.  However, the house is quite large and there are a couple of alternative areas where a new staircase could be added which would then lead to the conversion into a single family residence. Until a few months ago one sibling owner occupied the first floor and another occupied the second and third floor.  The cottage has been a rental for some time. This explains the mls listing as three legal units.

622 Grinnell Street has 1820 sq ft of interior living space. The cottage has an additional 512 sq ft.  The house and cottage sit on a large lot on one of the quietest blocks in Old Town. Grinnell Street dead ends at the corner of Angela Street which is the northern boundary of the Key West cemetery.  In my  opinion the highest and best use of this property would be to convert the main building into a single family residence and update the guest cottage. There is adequate room for a pool on the south side of the house and there is room for off street parking beside the guest cottage.

The photos below were taken a few months back when the property was owner occupied. Tenants now occupy the property and it does not show the same.
Main floor living room
Third floor apartment
Third floor apartment with old scuttles
The rooftop deck on the main house has an incredible view of the area. You can see the spires at St Mary's Basilica. Most of the lot is covered with tropical foliage and red brick pavers. The house itself has been well maintained and looks great.  Buyers who seek Dade County Pine and old glass with ripples will fall in love with this old house. There are little cubby holes and scuttles and other architectural treasures galore.
                                                            Third floor rooftop deck
Second floor living room with front with front porch
The listing agent states that the property as a whole has 2740 sq ft of living space and sits on a 57' x 83' (4683 sq ft) lot. The house has not been touched in years and would benefit from a thorough renovation. But understand that the property is livable as is. But it could be so much more! CLICK HERE to view a slideshow of photos I took of this property.
I sold the house next door at 618 Grinnell Street a couple of years ago. It was in similar condition and it was owned by the same folks that own 622 Grinnell Street. My buyer got a much better price than the asking price. That does not infer a buyer for 618 Grinnell would get the same type of deal, but you never know what price you can agree upon until you make a real offer.  My buyer did an excellent renovation of his property for which he received a Ceramic Star for Historic Restoration. (He took out most of the old trees and vegetation, added a pool, parking on the side, and introduced new native landscaping.) Look at the before and after and imagine how proud you would be to receive to similar recognition.

The 600 block of Grinnell Street is one of the quietest blocks in Old Town. That is because it ends at Angela Street which is the northern border of the Key West cemetery. That means that Conch trains, trolley cars, and Duck Tour vehicles will not be using this street. Those vehicles cannot traverse Angela Street. Your life will be quieter because of this. Occasionally you will still see tourists walking by or riding bikes. And you will see neighbors go across the street to use the Grinnell Street Pocket Park.
Five Brothers Grocery and Sandwich Shop is located down on the corner of Southard Street. The Key West Historic Seaport is located three blocks further north and Duval Street is located five blocks to the west. Most of the gyms and yoga studios are located within a five to ten minute walk of this location.
622 Grinnell Street is offered at $1,200,000 CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls data sheet on this property. Or better than that, please call 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. Let me help you find your place in Paradise.


Anonymous said...


One thing I have never been able to understand about Key West real estate--

This property has been for sale for 250 days according to the MLS data sheet. I see this time and again-- properties languish for months, even years, unsold.

There is a buyer out there for every property if the price is right.

Gary Thomas said...

I just saw this comment that was posted 13 days ago.
I explained in the blog that I sold the house next door that was owned by the same owner. It, too, had been lived in for years and it had a lot of potential. It was priced much higher than the price at which it sold.

I don't think the sellers need to give away this house in order to sell it. I do think they will respond to a reasonable offer.

There are fewer and fewer large properties for sale in Old Town - especially ones like this that have character, a separate cottage, off street parking, room for a pool, a good location, and that will be worth a lot more when they are renovated than they are now.

If some new owner invests about $500,000 in renovation in this property, I am pretty confident the updated properties (house and cottage) will be worth over $2,000,000 when completed.

There are some absolute dogs for sale at a higher price per sq ft with a lot less long term potential.

I know more than I can write. I think this is a really attractive property for the right buyer - somebody with cash, ideas, and a desire to have some fun in real estate.



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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.