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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

Gary Thomas, Realtor 
Preferred Properties Key West
305-766-2642

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

627-629 Eaton Street - Key West Historic Landmark Property For Sale

My friends at Prudential Knight and Gardner Realty in Key West recently listed one of the last untouched Old Town landmarks in Key West. Dear Readers, this property located at 627-629 Eaton Street might just be your dream property. Think I'm a little wacko?  Read on.

I searched the old Sanborn Fire Maps for Key West and found this building on the 1889 map which means it was built some time prior to that date. The Monroe County Property Appraiser's official records show the construction date as being 1929. (I think the Sanborn Map is more correct, but the official record is the official record.)  In any case, the building is ancient and has the crow's feet and wrinkles to prove it.  I dug deep into the old shoe box and found a photo taken back in 1965 shown immediately below. The back of the photo shows the downstairs as being a launderette and dentist's office. The upstairs presumably were apartments. I took a similar photo to compare the old versus current facades. I think the old girl looked a bit better back in the day, but this is one solid building which ought to respond to a keen renovation. 

 The listing Realtor describes 627-629 Eaton Street this way:
"This historic concrete block building consists of two commercial spaces downstairs and two residential units upstairs. One commercial space is empty, the other tenant is a laundromat. Each residential unit has it's own staircase and entrance. One unit is a one bedroom, one bath, the other unit is a two bedroom, one bath."
The listing Realtor shows the building as having 3627 sq ft of interior space divided between the two floors. The building sets on a rectangular lot of 2201 sq ft (55.5' X 39.67') at the corner of Eaton and Elizabeth Streets. The building itself measures 50' X 38' plus the covered ground floor walkway and second floor porch that run 50' X 38' to the east rear. The building is built literally to the rear and side lot lines. There is no room for a pool, hot tub, or parking.
The downstairs east commercial space has been a self-service laundry ever since I moved to Key West in 1993. The writing on the 1965 photo suggests that it has been a laundry for a much longer time period. The adjacent space is not currently rented which creates lots of possibilities for a new owner. There are several small ante-rooms behind both spaces. The vacant space was previously a dentist's office and most recently was rented as a floral shop.  The tropically painted wall shown below is either poured concrete or cinder block.  The listing Realtor told me the wall extends up through the second floor above and provides support for the building. I think it would be possible to merge the ground floor spaces into one larger commercial space or alternatively create a new living space in the former dentist's office. A new owner would need to obtain permission from the City of Key West to do this or merge the ground floor space into the second floor space via the adjacent stairway.
There are two apartments on the second floor. Both are currently rented under market value and both are on a month to month rental agreement.  Both tenants have been in place for some time. The tenant in the east apartment has been in the space for 20 years.  The landlord has not made any substantial improvements to this building over recent years. Below are some photos that provide a basic image of how the properties look today.
The above photos are of the west second floor apartment or the one above the former dentist's office.  One alternative for renovating this space might be to combine the first and second floor west spaces into one two story living unit. I think a new owner could do the same for the east spaces as well, but I will discuss an alternate proposal for that space below.  Part of the allure of this building is the second floor balcony which extends nine feet over the city sidewalk. Construction like this would likely not be permitted today. But since it is in place and since this is such a recognized property that it has achieved 'landmark' status, I seriously doubt anyone would consider allowing the removal of the balcony.
The east second floor apartment is filled with tenant owned pieces that make this space shine. A new owner might move some interior walls to create more modern spaces, replace the kitchen and bath, and so on. I would replace the existing metal louvers with real windows.  As an alternative to keeping this space an apartment, a new owner might consider combining the two upstairs units into one large loft type living space. The interior floor to ceiling cinder block or poured concrete wall will need to be addressed in any renovation. Almost anything is possible if you have a talented engineer, architect, designer, and money. Both the ground floor spaces and the second floor apartments have very tall ceilings. This opens all spaces to imaginative renovation possibilities not available in most existing properties.  I took more photos which you can view if you CLICK HERE. Please do so and consider what kind of new property you could create in these spaces.

627-629 Eaton Street is offered for sale at $775,000CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet. But better than looking at photos online, please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule a private showing of this unique Key West property.  I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. The buyers are returning to Key West in droves. Don't miss the opportunity to create something stunning.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

1016 James Street - Old Town - Key West

Just listed, but not by me, 1016 James Street in Old Town Key West.  I have written about this historic property on several occasions - first, when it was for sale and later as it was being renovated.  Today I write about the stunning renovation of a classic Key West eyebrow house that has a new lease on life. This home received the Old Island Restoration Foundation Ceramic Star in 2013.
To appreciate the current, we ought to take a quick look back at the past. I checked the Sanborn Fire Maps for Key West and found what I believe to be this same property placed on the 1889 Sanborn Fire Map. (The house numbers on many houses were different then. But the placement is the same as where this house is located today.)  I then dug into the old shoebox and found two older photos that show the house in the 1930s and in 1965.
The above photo was taken by members of the WPA during the Great Depression. The pic looks eastward toward the old pineapple cannery. That is the current location for Manley De Boer Lumber Company.  I decided to photograph the same view some seventy years later - see below.
The photo above with the old Ford was taken in 1965.  The house looked just fine in this photo.
The above photo was taken in 2010 just before the renovation began.  The house was lifted up to the sky, a new foundation was poured, and the house was brought back to the ground as the renovation process began.
 Today this property is as pretty as it can be. It is the type of property would-be second home owners dream of owning. Here is the best part: this home has been rented for several months as a vacation rental and now has a track record that a potential new owner could look to if he or she wanted to continue renting the property for income to help defray some of the cost of home ownership.  1016 James Street is offered for sale at $925,000 CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet and to view listing photos.
This house was re-designed for modern day living.  The back end of the house now opens to a newly built rear covered loggia that overlooks the pool and rear courtyard. There is even off street parking located on Thompson Lane to the rear. (This is in addition to the off street parking at the west front of the house.) I actually drove prospective buyers past this house last week. My buyers were considering the purchase of a "fixer".  I shared some "before" photos of this property. My buyers were incredulous when they saw how beautifully this home turned out.
The two guest bedrooms are located on the second floor. They share one bath.  The master bedroom is located at ground level. French doors in the master bedroom open out to the rear for an early morning or late evening dip in a pool.  The tiny falling down shack at the rear of the property was converted into a mini-cottage. A new wood fence was added. A portion of the rear was carved out to create a second off street parking spot accessed of Thompson Lane. CLICK HERE to view more photos of this property.
Please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule a private showing of this wonderful Key West home. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.  Let me help you find your place in Paradise.   




Monday, November 25, 2013

506 Elizabeth St - Key West - A Buying Opportunity

I have written a couple of times about the very well located and very well built 1292 sq ft two story legal duplex at 506 Elizabeth Street in Key West.  I am surprised, really surprised, nobody has bought this place as of yet.  The property was listed on May 17th - or after the great majority of second home buyers had left the island and returned up north where they live in the cold for half the year. 

The house was built in the 1890s and is currently configured as a legal duplex. However, by opening a door in the front hallway the two residences can easily become one again. I found an old black and white photo of the house as it sat when photographed in 1965. I took a similar photograph that shows how the house looks today. The architectural detail has been preserved if not improved by fresh paint and shutters.

The house sits about 100 feet south of Fleming Street on a 50' x 28' lot  and across the Monroe County Public Library. There is a good sized rear deck located off the first floor bedroom. There is space there for a hot tub or spa. Both the main level and second floor apartments have wonderful covered front porches for people watching.   The large blue house next door to the south is nearly finished after three years of construction. A narrow driveway next to 506 Elizabeth Street leads to a parking lot for the owners of condominiums located on Fleming Street.
The listing Realtor describes 506 Elizabeth Street this way:
"2 Story Home Located In The Historic District Of Old Town; 2 Blocks From Duval and; All The Shops & Restaurants The City Has To Offer! Each Floor Has A Full Bath W/Laundry Facilities, A Kitchen, Bedroom and; Living Room. At This Moment A Legal Duplex Witch Could Be Restored Into A Single Family Residence. Covered Porches Add To The Wonderful Outdoor Living Space." 

Both units have Dade County Pine walls, ceilings and floors. The main level wood walls have been covered in most areas but the Dade Pine is still existent underneath and could be exposed again if a new owner prefers the historic look.  Dade County Pine walls are the distinctive architectural feature on the second floor where years of paint have been removed to show off the rich deep grain and color of the native wood.
 

Second Floor Apartment

The main level kitchen now has 21st Century cabinets, stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops, and designer flair. The second floor kitchen is more 'old school' and utilitarian. The second floor kitchen is marked by a shiny tin ceiling.
The main level bedroom has ample closets for storage. A door at the rear opens out to the rear deck area that is fenced and which provides quality outdoor living area.  There is room for a hot tub in this space. (No permit is required as a hot tub is portable and can be removed.)  The main floor apartment might rent for $1800 per month or more on an annual basis.
The bedroom on the second level is quite spacious. The hallway is extra large and provides workspace for a home office. 
506 Elizabeth Street just might be the answer to the dreams of many would-be second home buyers in Key West. As a legal duplex a new owner could retain one apartment for personal use and rent the second one either as full time or possibly as vacation rental. (I think the first floor unit with the addition of a hot tub on the private rear deck could work well as a vacation rental.)  But either unit likely could be rented for enough money to probably pay the annual taxes, insurance, and maintenance costs on the building.  I think the second floor unit could rent for $2,000 per month or more on an annual lease.

The listing agent suggests that this property could be easily converted to single family. I agree. The photo below shows an interior door from the lower unit which opens into the stairway to the second floor. Remove the doors and the second floor and first become one home. I would remover the kitchen on the second floor and convert that space into a third bedroom with access of the adjacent room. The front room would have use of the existing bath.  It would be that simple; that cheap; and very effective. CLICK HERE to view more photos I took.

You could not ask for a better location.  All of the wonders of Duval Street and the more relaxing elements of the Historic Key West Seaport are within a five minute walk from 506 Elizabeth Street. People from around the world go to the nearby Sarabeth's for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  You could be there in just a couple of minutes. The Tropic Cinema is one of the best small movie theaters in the US. You could be there in five minutes by foot. If you are gay and want a place to swim with the boys, you could walk five blocks down Fleming Street go to the Island House.  If you are straight you could instead go over to Dante's at the foot of Caroline Street. Think about saving $150 per month on a pool service and instead spending that much money at a place like the Island House or Dante's on food and beverages. You'll probably have more fun with the boys and girls than you would in your own backyard.  
CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet and listing photos. 506 Elizabeth Street is offered at $699,000.  I realize there are properties that have pools and off street parking and many other features on many buyers' wish lists. I will bet you that they do not as good a location as this or that they will cost a lot more than this, or if they cost less that they will require extensive (and expensive) renovation which means in the long run they will cost more. 

Please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule a private showing of 506 Elizabeth Street which I consider to be a buying opportunity. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. Let me help you find your place in Paradise.

Disclaimer

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.