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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

615 Angela Street, Old Town, Key West - a Buying Opportunity

Every now and then a reader of my little blog will call me, send me an email, or show up at an open house and even set up an appointment to me at my office just to say thanks for writing my blog and to tell me about their dream of buying a place here - someday. Many of my readers are people of normal means. They work 9:00 to 5:00 jobs and spend a part of workday doing what their company pays them to do - their job. I think some  may cheat the boss a bit by their constant presence on the internet using search engines like or Zillow to monitor new listings that pop up in Key West mls. It's true and you know it is. And a lot of potential buyers with big nest eggs saved up do the same thing - they watch the mls for a buying opportunity. They just don't cheat their employer.
128 days ago today (March 15th) readers got to see a new listing pop up at 615 Angela Street located in the Old Town area of Key West. It's a big house located near the crest Solaris Hill.  I had buyers in town who had rented 635 William Street for a couple of months. They loved that house so much that they wanted to buy a place like it or buy a place that they could renovate to create the same kind of serene elegance. We set out looking for properties which included a visit to 615 Angela Street. My buyers were captivated by the property but ultimately decided they wanted to buy a house that was in move-in condition. A couple of days ago I showed this home again, to another couple seeking a dream home. They have been looking for a place for a couple of years and have made offers but have so far been unable to buy the perfect place. They decided as much as they love the location and size of this house, they needed to find a place that was ready to move into.
Let me share my thoughts with you about this house, this lot, this buying opportunity.  Now it isn't fancy. It is a simple house. But that is why I personally think it is incredible. It is a blank slate upon which a new owner could create a beautiful new home, garden, and pool in a very desirable location.
When you look at the house from the street you see this big boxed-in second floor area that just does not look "right".  I have seen this look before and recognize that the space was previously a porch which was enclosed to create additional living space (usually a bedroom or sleeping area). When the listing Realtor showed the property my potential buyers, he looked up to the porch and said the  porch was originally open and then later enclosed by the family who have lived in this house for eighty years. Below you will see a photo I found in my old shoe box which was taken fifty years ago. The second floor front porch was open then. You will also see the exterior side staircase that leads to what is the second apartment in this home.  Once inside this home I got to meet the owner who grew up in this home. She had a photo of her sitting on the front porch before it was enclosed. The view looked toward Duval Street which is only a little over a block away, but far enough away not to hear the clatter. Close, but far.
The original house was built in the 1880s and was just one story tall. The second floor was added as the family grew larger and more space was needed. The Monroe County Property Appraiser shows this house as having 3004 sq ft of living space (measured from exterior walls and including only areas capable of being air conditioned or stated another way not including porches or decks. The house sits near the top of Solares Hill (located about 200 feet to the east) on a lot that measures 54' X 134' or 7,169 sq ft. The old photo shows us that the house is built close to the street and that means the back yard must be immense. It is more than that - I must use that word again "incredible".

CLICK HERE to view a GOOGLE MAP AERIAL VIEW of this house and its relation to the topography as well as its nearness to Duval Street and other areas of Old Town Key West. Use the little toggle switch in the right hand corner of the map to zoom down to see not only this house but also other nearby houses like the Phillip Burton house across the street and the Coca Cola mansion at the rear on Southard Street.
We started our tour of this home by first looking at the back of the property where there is room for a pool and possible expansion of the existing garage into something else. The house itself is very large. It does not need to be expanded. But it does need to be renovated. The house and the garage are boxes. All houses and even palaces are boxes.  A good architect or designer can transform a box into something quite interesting by how he or she divides the spaces into uses and the selections he makes in materials and other building elements. This property has one big box, a smaller box in the left rear corner, and a very large open rear yard. The openness means a new owner is not stuck with a problem tree or forest of protected specimens to deal with. Not having to spend money to deal with a problem results in cost savings to a new owner. Readers probably won't appreciate what I am saying until they have to hire an arborist, an attorney, and maybe an engineer who have to explain why a tree must be removed or how to treat an issue that the city deems worthy of preserving or not disturbing. Money wasted on lawyers is better spent on pretty things, cocktails, or both.
The City of Key West recognizes this property as being a legal duplex. I think the highest and best use of the house is to make it into a single family home and renovate the garage - maybe create a second legal living unit there or convert the space into a guest house or pool cabana. The rear yard is immense and has plenty of ground on which to add a pool surrounded by lush gardens and decks. The existing rear staircase needs to be by something more architecturally interesting. Perhaps a new owner would seek permission to create a two story covered deck that looks down upon and provides a stairway to the new pool and gardens.
The listing Realtor describes the property this way:
"Unbelievable family home (now a legal duplex) atop of Solaris Hill in Old Town. Living room, dining room, kitchen, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, wide covered front porch and rear wooden deck leading to huge backyard on ground floor. Living room, dining room, kitchen, two bedrooms with Jack n Jill bathroom, plus office and additional room (has been used as a bedroom in the past), rear enclosed porch and outside rear wooden sundeck leading down to the same huge backyard. There is an outside utility room and a detached garage/workshop. Over 3,000 SF in main house. Pull down stairs in upstairs bedroom leads to a full attic. Surprisingly good condition inside."
First Floor Living Room. Note the very tall ceiling height.
Second Floor Living Room - About Eight Foot Ceiling Height
CLICK HERE to view the listing photos of this property. I took pics on my small pocket camera not intending to blog about this house. But after I saw the house I realized readers must see this place. The listing photos are great. Consider the height throughout the first floor. It is impressive. The height on the second floor is  closer to 8'. All interior walls and ceilings are Dade County Pine. There is a huge attic with wood floor. There is room in the attic and under the house to install central air conditioning.  
The house is so big that I think it might make sense to restore the original by removing exterior walls that currently enclose what used to be the second floor front porch. The house is built with balloon framing which I believe would allow a new owner to reconfigure the rooms into a more modern living mode that works with the way we live today. Walls can be moved, an interior stairway added, central air conditioning would be introduced into the home, and a modern kitchen and new baths added to create a superb new home. The second floor porch might be restored to its original design or maybe even modified with covered second floor porch. The house would be painted and the house would present itself in totally different manner.
615 Angela Street is offered at $1,195,000. Please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to set up a personal showing of this (I gotta say it again) incredible house.  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.