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Sunday, August 31, 2014

1403 Olivia Street - The Meadows Area - Key West

 There is something about a simple Conch House that brings most people down from their lofty perches to appreciate everyday life in Key West.

The listing agent describes 1403 Olivia Street as "This charming home is a very traditional Conch house and located in a fabulous neighborhood. The home has been well maintained by the current owner with much Dade County pine, original stair case, and wood floors. The homes is set back slightly from the street with an inviting front porch that overlooks a colorful garden. The rear yard is fenced with a garden shed, and decking."

The house sits behind a lushly landscaped small front yard that is separated from the sidewall by a white picket fence. The front porch is elevated just a bit and provides a perfect perch to watch the world go by. 
I dug down into my old shoebox and found a black and white photo taken nearly 50 years ago. Compare that pic with the recent color photo immediately below. The tree is much taller, the yard is more densely landscaped, the canvas awnings are gone, and shutters were added. The simple geometry of the house remains unchanged.
When you cross the threshold you enter into a small foyer. The stairway that leads to the second floor. The hallway leads to the back of the house. The living room is located up front. The two front windows provide views out toward the street and two windows on the right allow additional light. There is a faux fireplace in the living room for those few nights we might conjure up the idea of wanting a fire to keep us warm.
The kitchen and dining area are at the rear. Two large sliders allow sunlight to filter through the trees and provide gentle illumination to the space. Most of the backyard is decked where there are multiple planting areas and potted plants.  There is room for a pool. And there is good side yard access for a contractor to install a pool.
There are two real bedrooms on the second floor. I say "real" because sometimes some houses have small spaces an agent may call a bedroom. These rooms work!
This home has an "old house" feel without feeling old or tired.  You appreciate the age and architectural elements and materials such as the Dade County Pine walls, ceiling, and floors. The Monroe Count Property Appraiser shows this house as being 1514 sq ft. It has two bedrooms and two baths. The home is a full time residence that has been very well maintained and cared for by the long time homeowner. Everything here is neat and clean. CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet and listing photos of 1403 Olivia Street.  
This home is located in the Meadows Area of Key West. Bayview Park (Key West's main city park) is located one block to the south. Bayview has public tennis courts, a baseball field, an old fashioned band stand, and lots of space where the the city and civic groups host various events throughout the year. The White Street "Arts District" is within easy walking distance.  There are numerous small shops, gyms, yoga studios, eateries, and Faustos Food Palace (grocery store).  Old Town and the Historic Seaport are within walking distance as well. 

Please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule a private showing of this home or any other house in Key West. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. Let me help you find your place in Paradise.

Friday, August 29, 2014

1414 5th Street - Key West Bungalow with a Place for Mom

What an inviting and pretty house 1414 5th Street is. As I got out of my car to take photographs of this home I had to stop and take in the simplicity and charm of this home. We are all aware of the Cigar Maker Cottages, Eyebrow Houses, and Grand Conch Houses in Old Town. And we all are familiar with the mid century homes and more recent new homes in the Casa Marina Area which often sit behind imposing six foot privacy fences. So it was pleasing to see an atypical bungalow framed by waving palms and perched behind a green lawn in the Mid Town Area of Key West. It immediately looked like home!
I soon learned that what I saw from the street is a much larger house and even larger property than I imagined. The irregular lot measures 100' X 100' with a "cutout" of about 50' X 50' on the northwest corner. The resulting lot is totals 8370 sq ft on which the house is located. Besides the broad front lawn, there is off street parking to the north and a large backyard with abundant space for a pool.
According to the Monroe County Property Appraiser the original house was built in 1938. It was updated and expanded and now totals 2307 sq ft of living space. The front door opens into the home that is arranged like most homes up north in America. The living room, kitchen and dining area are located up front. A central hallway leads to the bedrooms that are located on either side.
 You will notice that plantation shutters filter the view from the outside looking in which works the same way from the inside in the other direction. Also notice the travertine marble floors, crown molding, and recessed lights throughout the house. 
There are three bedrooms in the main house. Two of these bedrooms have en-suite baths. A third full bath is located off the central hallway and serves as guest bath as well. You will notice the travertine marble floors and crown molding continue into the bed and bath areas.
I mentioned this home also has a place for Mom. In 2008 the home was enlarged with a two bedroom one bath addition that includes a very large living area and kitchen. This is the perfect place for Mom or Dad or both in the golden years. There is a private entry off the front that includes a nice outdoor area. Inside, the expansive kitchen opens out to the living room and dining space. The two bedrooms are on the far side of the living room. Doors at the back of both the main part of the house and Mom's addition open out to the back yard where there is a nice deck and small shed. There is plenty of room for a pool. Perhaps a new owner might convert the shed into a poolside cabana.
The 2008 renovation included new siding, new windows and doors, new roof, new electric, new plumbing, new floors, etc. They forgot the pool. But that's an easy fix. There's plenty of room for a large pool and extensive grounds. These are the creative things new owners love to add. This home did not flood in Wilma. CLICK HERE to view more photos of this extra large property.

CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet on 1414 5th Street which is offered at $650,000. Then please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to set up a showing of this very pretty home that includes a Place for Mom.  I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. Let me help you find your place in Paradise.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Projects of Key West - Not Quite What You Might Expect

The Key West real estate market is in the summer doldrums. Not much is happening. A lot of agents and business owners have left or will be leaving town for a few weeks rest and relaxation before Fantasy Fest hits in October and Season starts around Christmastime. I thought this is a good time to bring readers up to date on some past projects and a couple of new ones.

The house at 617 Grinnell Street is a bit of a rarity in Old Town Key West. Our Historic Architectural Review Commission normally does not allow old houses to be torn down. This place is a rare exception.  The building came down in just a couple of days. The new structure got a roaring start which then came to an abrupt stop. Now the construction is back up and running again.

620 Ashe Street is getting a new lease on life starting with a new foundation. The house was elevated so that new piers and superstructure could be built. The house was lowered onto the new piers'  The old building and new addition will get all  new windows, doors, interiors, etc. 

The house at 410 Simonton Street was in my blog a couple of times during the past few years when it was offered for sale. The place had been carved up into nine apartments by a previous owner. I remember showing the units. I refused to enter one of the apartments which smelled so bad.  But I told buyers this could be one of the sweetest properties once again. And I am confident it will be. A nasty accessory building was removed. Interiors were all removed. Failing piers were replaced. A rickety exterior stairway was taken down.  Slowly, the delicate house of yore is being rebuilt.  I can't wait to see how lovely this place will look when it is completed.
What I like to call the tippie top of Solares Hill is getting a nearly total makeover. A series of old photos followed by recent photos starts with an aerial view of the highest point on in the island of Key West.  I recently found a photo of 700 Elizabeth Street that was taken back in 1986. This house recently had some exterior siding replaced and the entire house was painted. I mention this project because it did not break the bank and the place looks just great. Not all projects need be expensive to be productive. I added a couple of vintage photos I have collected that show this former store and home over the years.

630 Elizabeth Street is located on the corner to the north. At one time it was also a ground level store and had a living space on the second floor. More recently the place was considered a legal duplex by the city. A prior owner had started renovations a couple of years ago and then suspended the project. The new owner restarted renovations last week when a new barricade went up around the property and a shed addition to the rear came down. The shed addition added nothing to the house which is very large. What it did do is take away what a new owner could do with the back of the property.  I have not seen the plans for this house, but hope that the renovation might include a two story rear porch and small pool. 
A couple of months ago the fragments of the house located across the street at 629 Elizabeth were taken down. I say fragments as not much of the original house remained - certainly not much worthy of being saved. The front facade is all that is left of the old house. A new foundation was poured. A new structure is going up day by day.
Memories fade. Old photos help us remember what things "used" to look like. The old walls have only been down a few weeks and the place has a totally different look. The new foundation was built and framing began.
530 Catherine Street is a good example of how quickly and efficiently a place can get renovated when the developer knows exactly what to do and keeps the various trades doing their jobs in a timely manner.
An ugly inefficient building at the rear was taken down. A mid century concrete block addition to the main house was also taken down and was replaced by a new extension that added living space to the home. A pool was added at the rear.

The Post World War II house at 1233 South Street intrigued me and several buyers. This three bedroom home sat on a large and beautifully landscaped corner lot just one block east of the Casa Marina area.  The home was recently purchased. Construction has begun on what will be a complete renovation and addition to this property. Much of the aged landscaping has been removed and new specimen palms planted as a forerunner to work on the home. We shall monitor the progress on this very well located property. Watch for the fake brick facade to be removed along with replacement of correct period windows.
I wrote about 914 Flagler Avenue a couple of times over the years. The original house was built of a man made cement based material similar to concrete block that has natural stone appearance. The house was added onto with concrete block and mid century windows that totally made destroyed the unique look of the original house. The new owner has ripped out the concrete block additions and has started the renovation process.
A block west at 904 Flagler Avenue another mid century home is being transformed into something much larger and totally different from the original little cracker box house that once occupied this lot. I am not sure that I understand the new big box, however.
A more auspicious project is underway a block to the south at 1119 Johnson Street. There a mid century home was razed and a new multi-million dollar home is being built in its place. The lot on which the new home is being built is 7500 sq ft. Essentially, the owner paid $1,300,000 or $692 per sq ft to buy the land on which the new approximate two million home is being built. Keep the price per sq ft in mind when looking at properties for sale in Key West. 

Two blocks to the north a much smaller mid century home at 1128 Von Phister Street was taken down to the ground. A new two story wood frame home will replace the former CBS two bedroom with one bath home. The Von Phister lot is only 4322 sq ft but it sold for $495,000 or $804.88 per sq ft.  That price for the land is higher on a per sq ft basis than just about any active listing in either Old Town or Casa Marina.
Out on the far eastern end of the island a very large house on the Riviera Canal at 3810 Flagler Avenue is getting a total renovation. I showed this house a couple of times when it was offered for sale a few years ago. The water views from the back of the house are incredible. The house itself was dated.  I have only seen and photographed what can be seen from the street. So far I am impressed.

I share these projects with my readers to they can keep up with what is going on down here. I know full well that existing home costs are higher here than just about anywhere in the country. It's greed plain and simple. But once you have a place here, you get to experience what can be a very stress free lifestyle. You can boat, fish, snorkel, go to the gym or yoga studio. You can paint a picture or write the Great American Novel (or blog!). You can be who you want to be and not give a damn what others say because here it really does not matter. So I guess the price of Paradise is worth it. And if you have enough money, you can buy a less than perfect place and fix it up. In some instances you may be able to tear down the old house (or most of it) and build something very charming in its place. 

If you are looking to buy a place in Key West, 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.


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.