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Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Projects of Key West - Spring 2016 - Homes

 I view myself as a buyers agent but I do occasionally list properties (and sell them!).  I get phone calls and emails from prospective buyers most of whom want to buy a fixer-upper at a bargain price. Many believe they can use their design skills to create the perfect Key West house which they may also want to rent out to help pay for the purchase and renovation. That's all easier said than done. I try to warn these folks how difficult it is to fulfill their expectations. It's like wrestling with buyers. But there are many success stories that disprove my thesis.

Today's blog is an update on the projects of Key West. The last update was in mid-January 2015. However, I have been taking pictures all along and will share those with you today. I have added links which you can click to see more photos of individual projects. Let's start by looking at the places that have been completed and then view current projects still in progress.


617 Grinnell Street
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 was a rare exception.  I did not review the records but can tell from the black and white photo that 617 Grinnell was not considered a contributing structure given the asbestos shingle siding and clam shell awnings. The building came down in just a couple of days. Within a matter of days the new piers were added.  Framing began soon afterwards. The new house went up in within a matter of weeks. Interiors took longer. The new house has an old house look and fits nicely into this block of old homes.
622 Grinnell Street
 I wrote several blogs about 622 Grinnell Street which I genuinely believed to be a tremendous buying opportunity. I loved this idiocentric property that had been owned by the same sibling family who had separate living quarters for decades. The place was legally separated into three living spaces but in reality there were four: three in the main house and one on the detached cottage on ----- Lane.
There was no interior stairway. Instead there was an external staircase that reached from the earth up to the rooftop third floor apartment with an amazing view overlooking the nearby cemetery. I understand the new owner has totally renovated the interiors. I am offering some old photos and a couple of new ones to show how beautiful this revitalized (and still multi-unit) home this is. Several of the old and ungainly trees were removed. The old stairway was rebuilt. The house and cottage were painted and look wonderful. They now are among the prettiest of the several pretty homes on this fine street.

626 Grinnell Street
I wrote about 626 Grinnell Street several times when it was listed for sale over the past decade. While the house itself always had great street appeal, it was the lack of off street parking and smallish pool that in my opinion made the place a difficult property to sell coupled with the prior owner's reluctance to negotiate on price. A new owner overcame the challenges and spent a year redoing the house with most changes totally hidden from public view. This owner also purchased 622 Grinnell and created an off street parking space for the owner's use. The result is another stunning addition to lovely Grinnell Street.

626 Grinnell Street, Key West - 2016

620 Ashe Street
The revival style home at 620 Ashe Street got a total renovation and then some. 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 completed home looks like it has sat on this site for years and was lovingly maintained. What the tourists don't know won't hurt them.

920 Simonton Street
920 Simonton Street is another visible renovation project located near the corner of Simonton at Truman. Most of the work here appears to be "repairs" to fix things that were aged as opposed to a substantial renovation. Doors, windows, and the roof were replaced. The house was painted.

415 United Street
I wrote about 415 United Street a couple of years back when it was offered for sale. The house went under contract within a matter of days - not because of the condition it was in but the potential it possessed. The main house had been updated several years earlier. There was an adjacent cottage and another cottage behind the main house. The cottage contained a makeshift apartment where the tenant used the bath tub to wash the dishes.

410 Simonton Street
The Kerr 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 once refused to enter one of the apartments which smelled so bad. The property was purchased, gutted, and restored. It is stunning!

623 Angela Street
The little Conch Cottage at 623 Angela Street was immortalized by local folk artist Ronny Bailey several years ago and just recently was given a new lease on life when it got a much needed face lift or sorts. I took more photos but they somehow disappeared among the thousands of house photos I have taken. I recall the front door being open and being able to see work going on inside. I have never seen the interior. I can only report the exterior has been revitalized. Note the house as depicted in the 1930's WPA black and white photo immediately below followed by newer photos that show the changes.


615 Angela Street 
I wrote about this large legal duplex that sits atop Solaris Hill not far from Duval Street. I think this was one of the very best deals in Key West last year. I suggested that the house could either do with an upgrade or be the beneficiary of a major renovation. The new owner appears to have opted for an upgrade. Below is an old photo showing the house in 1965 before the second floor front porch was enclosed to become a part of the house. The next photo shows the property while it was offered for sale. The final photo shows the house now. The front and side exteriors have been painted. Some repair work is being done at the rear.

 618 Petronia Street
The house at 618 Petronia Street is nearing completion of its renovation and expansion as a small wood frame Conch house into a modern two story home located near the top of Solaris Hill. The original house lost much of its original historic character during an earlier renovation. The new owners opted to go modern. When this house was for sale I wrote about the incredibly deep lot that went along with the house. The new owners are taking full advantage of that lot as it becomes a focal point of their renovation.

920 Eisenhower Drive
One of the most noticeable project in the renovation going on at the corner of Truman Avenue at Eisenhower Drive. This big hulk of a house looked abandoned for years is now getting all fixed up. The original shell of 920 Eisenhower Drives is all that remains of this old house. The house was elevated and new priers installed. Portions of the framing were replaced. All interiors were gutted. Most of the original clapboard siding has been replaced. There are new windows as well. 

717 Thomas Street
The original house at 717 Thomas Street was razed in 1970. The lot sat vacant for four decades. About a year ago a new foundation was poured and framing began on a new stick built house. Returning visitors and locals flock to nearby Blue Heaven where they can buy ten cent fried eggs for fifteen dollars.

723 Olivia Street
I posted a blog about 723 Olivia two years ago when it was offered for sale. I took an interior photo at the top of the second floor stairway looking towards the second floor front door that opened out to Olivia Street. The building noticeably tilted. The place was a total mess, but the house sat on a very large lot in a nice neighborhood located just two blocks east of Duval Street. Several weeks ago I began taking progress photos. The house originally was located almost adjacent to Poorhouse Lane. The most recent pics show the house relocated about six or seven feet to the west.  New piers are being constructed under the house where it is now placed.

845 Galveston Lane
I stumbled upon the renovation of 845 Galveston Lane while photographing the 723 Olivia Street project. I walked down Poorhouse Lane to photograph the rear of the Olivia house. I saw fresh stud framing and a new plywood roof as I looked west through the rear yard. I walked over to Galveston Lane and discovered an eyebrow house being thoroughly remodeled. I checked out the Property Appraiser's records and learned the house sits on a 50' X 100' lot. I then searched the Historic Sanborn Fire Maps and determined this house sat on this lot as early as 1889. Finally, I dug into my shoe box and found the two pictures copied immediately below which are followed by fresh photos I took of the project.

1121 Whitehead Street
1121 White Street was a bank owned property a couple of years ago. The place had been updated a few years before but that update was not done with particular style. The house has been undergoing a significant remodel including a two story rear addition and a pool.
This is the before photo
Renovation has begun

618 Eaton Street
618 Eaton Street is one of the most notable homes in Old Town partially because of its almost abandon appearance. It seems to sit far to the rear of the large lot. That's the rub and that is partially why the renovation and expansion of this old house has not progressed very much in the past months. The lot is enormous by Key West standards. The new owner managed to get HARC permission to not only renovate this building but to construct a couple of additional buildings behind the main house. Nearby property owners and other townspeople have filed suit to prevent the expansion. I personally view the expansion as something horrendous and harmful to Old Town. There is no justification for it. The proposed renovation will become a huge vacation rental. We have enough rentals now.

707 South Street
The house at 707 South Street was a major set in the 1989 James Bond thriller License To Kill. Bond's pal who got married in an earlier scene filmed at Key West's St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church was murdered in the house at 707 South Street. The metal louver windows date the house to another era. The house has been undergoing a thorough renovation and expansion for over a year. Below are a series of photos I have taken to document the transformation plus a couple I found on the internet.

New garage built on Villa Mill Alley

Villa Mill Alley appears in the distance on the right side. A new garage now sits there..

Please check back soon to see photos of the civic and commercial projects being built in Key West. I plan to offer my comments on what is going on and the cost to our community. In the meantime I

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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.