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Friday, July 28, 2017

718 Caroline Street, Key West


There are two new listings located 718 Caroline Street and 720 Caroline Street in Historic Seaport Area of Key West. I got a chance to see the interiors a couple of weeks ago before the listing agreement had been signed. I immediately recognized the building had been updated and expanded a few years ago, but I had no idea the building dated back to the beginning of the Twentieth Century.
I first searched the Historic Sanborn Fire Maps that date back to 1889 and successive editions. I found a building on this site on the 1889 map, but I could immediately tell it was not this building because the maps were precisely drawn to identify the size and location in case the building would be destroyed. It was not until the 1912 map that the current building appeared at the corner of Peacon Lane (previously known as Gruntbone Alley). Whereas the previous building was set back from Caroline Street and away from Gruntbone Alley, the 1912 building was located at the property line of both streets. That is the building that still exists today.  The Monroe County Property Appraiser dates the building to 1918.  I think I am correct and no matter if the date is off by a couple of years either way, it is still an old building.
1965
1970
I then dug into my old shoebox and found the top two photos which show the original building in 1965 and 1970. There is a notation on the 1965 photo stating the small building with awning projecting over sidewalk was "demolished" indicating that was done after the photo was taken. The next photo shows the building as it appeared in 1970. Note that both photos show the building is but one story tall. The aerial photo above was taken in 1999. I added a mark to show 718 Caroline Street as it exists today. You can immediately see the building was then two storys tall and has a widow's walk on the roof. I selected to add this photo to the blog because it also shows the Historic Seaport just a short 18 years ago before the massive renovation took place there. During the past four years Caroline Street was rebuilt as well to provide better access for the movement of people and vehicles in the area.
 The building as currently configured consists of two ground floor commercial units (not for sale) and two residential condominiums distinguished by different street numbers.  718 Caroline Street is a 1589 sq ft two bedroom two bath unit with incredible views to the north and the south.
The main living level is actually on the second floor of the building. Both units share the broad and sunny deck on this level. When you pass through the double front door opening you enter into a light filled living area with treetop views of nearby Peacon Lane.  That lane begins one block to the south at Eaton Street and ends at Caroline Street. Most people (including locals) do not know it exits. Almost all traffic will emanate from the few people who live on this lane and the few tourists who happen upon it by accident.
The smaller of the two bedrooms is located at the front of the building where it shares the balcony with 720 Caroline Street both of which have commanding views of Caroline Street. The historic seaport is located one block to the north. Pepe's Cafe is located one block to the east and Dante's is located two blocks further. Dante's has become favorite daytime hangout of locals and returning guests. They can swim and/or drink and dine all day long by the huge pool.
The master bedroom of 718 Caroline Street has a couple of views unlike others you'll probably experience elsewhere in Old Town. From the south third floor private deck you can view the rooftops  of the other homes on Peacon Lane.  This unit has the only access to the widow's walk atop the house. There you have a commanding view of the Caroline Street corridor and the historic seaport.
CLICK HERE to view the Key West MLS datasheet and to view more photos of 718 Caroline Street offered at $825,000.
720 Caroline Street has 1567 sq ft of living space on two floors. The open concept living area integrates nicely with the broad second floor sundeck. The smaller of the two bedrooms fronts onto the Caroline Street balcony. The master suite is on the second floor. It has expansive view of the southern skies. CLICK HERE to view the Key West MLS datasheet for 720 Caroline Street offered at $825,000.
The commercial and residential condominiums share proportionately in the monthly condominium dues which cover all building insurance, building maintenance, and common area maintenance. 718 Caroline pays $861.90 and 720 Caroline pays $849.94.
These units are being offered separately, however, one buyer might prefer to buy both and claim a stake in the future of Old Town. This building has both a historic past and prominent presence.  Please contact me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, to schedule a private showing. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Key West Real Estate Horror Story No. 9

Nearly a decade a go an author and screenplay writer purchased a full time residence from me. A few years later while our real estate market was in the dumps he decided it was a good time to buy an investment property.  I showed him a soon-to-be-listed little duplex which he instantly fell for.  He purchased the above pictured cute little duplex located on a lovely Key West lane before anybody else got to see it.   The place was in good condition such that the new owner was not required to make any repairs.  In fact is was tenant occupied when the buyer took possession.
A few months later I received a telephone call from the owner. He said he had just arrived in San Francisco to teach a writing class when he received a phone call advising him the duplex had been severely damaged in a fire very early that morning hours. He asked me to take a look, take some photos, and let him know what I thought.  Someone from the Key West Fire Department had contacted him and advised that both tenants were okay but that the woman tenant's dog died in the fire from smoke inhalation.
As I drove over to the property I expected to see the place burned down to the ground. When I got there I thought my buyer had exaggerated the magnitude of the event. The place had a crime scene tape out front. I couldn't see any fire damage from the street. It wasn't until I entered the side yard and walked to the rear when I saw some charred wood over the rear patio deck.
However, all of my assumptions about exaggeration abruptly ended when I looked inside the burned out windows to the interior. The place must have been a raging inferno.  The building was so severely damaged that the city condemned the property which made it possible for the owner to take down the structure and build new duplex. Our Historic Architectural Review Commission required the owner to retain the three front walls and front roof line as shown in the two photos above. An entirely new house was built in the space using building impact windows and doors and Hardiboard siding which in turn made the house less expensive to insure and also less expensive to cool. Most owners in Old Town are not permitted to use these construction materials as they are not approved by the historic commission. .
The owner built a new duplex on the lot, added a second story which was a new and larger master bedroom with en-suite bath. The front three walls were incorporated into a totally new studio apartment. The few people who had seen the duplex both before the fire and after rebuilding were amazed at the difference. I sold the place the next year. I think the two humans who lived in this place were very lucky to have made it out alive.

I was told the lady tenant in the rear came home very late on Friday night or early Saturday morning, lit a cigarette, and and may have fallen asleep. She and the young man who lived in the front apartment made it out without injury. He had just moved into the front apartment on Friday. He lost everything he had. The lady lost all of her property but more importantly lost her pooch. In the end that was the biggest loss for all three parties involved.
The owner sold the duplex the next year.  He sort of broke even in the transaction. Even so, there is a huge emotional cost one incurs in going through something this devastating. I am not a firm believer in wind insurance or flood insurance in most cases, but I absolutely believe in fire and liability insurance. Every investor and every homeowner must have fire and liability insurance sufficient to cover a loss of property and or life.  



Tuesday, July 25, 2017

712 Ashe Street, Key West Florida - All New Home in a Charming Old Town Location

712 Ashe Street in 1965
I have written a couple of blogs about the former house that used to sit at 712 Ashe Street in Key West. The old house was a tragic mess from front to back and side to side. The floors and ceiling were literally falling down. The place was not a safe place to live, but it was occupied until the very end when the sellers moved away. You can't tell it from the photos, but the old house is completely gone. The house could not be salvaged except for some members of the original porch which itself had been bastardized by the addition of siding and windows to create more interior living space.  The new owner kept the porch and built the new house in place retaining the porch element which will be restored as a porch.  The architectural rendering at the top shows the facade after it is completed.
Metal shed at the back of the 93' deep lot was taken down and all the tropical rubbish removed
I was at the property last week and took some photos of the house and pool area as it exists.  Below are several photos which show the exterior as it exists today. The house had "Novelty Siding" which is a tongue and grove with a bevel to add a bit of drama to the clapboard. This siding appears on many of the homes in Old Town. That siding is still available today and will wrap the front and both sides of the master bedroom which is at the front of the new structure.  The new entry door will be located on the right side of the house about 20 ft from the front sidewalk. Hardiboard siding will wrap the remainder of the house. Hardiboard is a concrete based material that looks like traditional wood siding. It resists the sun, heat, humidity, and rain. It is said to be 99% fire resistant and it is termite resistant - what stupid termite would eat concrete?  New wind impact resistant windows and doors will be added throughout the house as well.
The new home will have 1325 square feet of living space. The master bedroom with ensuite bath is located at the front. That room has a vaulted wood ceiling which will add dimension and character to the space. Two guest bedrooms share a Jack-and-Jill bath. There is also a guest bath and laundry area. The balance of the home is located at the rear. That room will have a 14 foot vaulted ceiling which is fairly dramatic in itself, especially for Old Town. More dramatic is the new rear wall which will be all glass. Windows on either side of the living space will allow additional light.
The rear wall opens onto an Ipe deck and pool area which will be lushly landscaped for the new owner as part of the final property. This home is scheduled to be completed for move-in by November. The house is being painted white throughout. If it is purchase now, a new owner could have some choices in the final touches to be added to the property prior to completion.  CLICK HERE to view more photos of this property. Don't let the mess confuse you. This is a Class A project. it will look great when completed. The owner showed me this and I could see the pride in his eyes as he described how he planned this project and how it will function for the new homeowner.

CLICK HERE to view the Key West MLS datasheet on 712 Ashe Street, Key West which is offered at $1,350,000. Then please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, to schedule a showing. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West



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Gary Thomas in a Nutshell

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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.