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Monday, July 17, 2017

The Projects of Key West - July 2017 Update

Today's blog is an update on the projects of Key West which I wrote way too long ago - January 2015. I have been taking pictures all along and will share those photos and add my comments on the various properties. I kept holding back posting this update, all the while waiting for a couple of places to finish. One of the reasons why Key West housing is so expensive is the fact that it takes so damned long to get jobs completed.  Later in today's blog you will see a few examples of extra long construction projects that are taking forever. I am a firm believer that some builders drag the construction time out as long as possible to make the owner believe it particulary diffficult and therefore should cost more than expected. We have some very good general contractors in Key West that are totally legitimate and very reliable. And we have others who may take on too many projects who hire inexperienced helpers and/or illegal workers.They show up when it fits their schedule, do a little work, and disappear.

1016 Varela Street
I wrote about this cigar make style cottage a couple of times and showed it several times. I was a big proponent of buying this place, expanding it, and making out like a bandit. The house did not look good from the street, but it had a huge rear yard that wrapped around the rear to the left which would give the new owner a lot of possibilities for varying uses. I remember having to show at limited hours of the day. There were closed circuit TV cameras to see who was at the door. The place was always tenant occupied which made showings even harder and they had to be present for all showings. They always watched who entered and what they looked at. Buyers found it diffiecult to think about the future when the present was looming over them like a hawk. But somebody bought the play, hired a good local contractor, and the place got a new lease on life in very quick order. I have not been inside and don't know what happended in the rear, but I am sure it includes a pool.
The sign states "Before and After 50 Days" That was on May 31, 2017

920 Eisenhower Drive
920 Eisenhower Drive is a big hulk of a house.  It looked abandoned for the past few years. It was once owned by the owner of Sloppy Joe. The house was elevated to add a new pier foundation,  The house was totally renovated which included re-framing much of the building, siding, and new interiors throughout the house. 
CLICK HERE for more photos of 920 Eisenhower Drive.

1116 Packer Street 
1116 Packer St is located in the South of Truman area of Old Town. This area has become a hotbed for renovation during the past couple of years. This was a small house and the renovation got completed fairly quickly by Key West standards.
CLICK HERE for more photos. Start to finish in less than a year.

716 Ashe Street
I wrote a blog about this property a couple of years ago.  It was a sad little house. It was lived in but very neglected. I will be writing a new blog about this property in the near future. Until then look at the photos of the front of the old house as that is all that remains. A whole new house has been built to replace what used to be. It supposed to be finished in less than thirty days.

704 Eaton Street
Renovation has just started at 704 Eaton Street. I understand it is going to be featured in an upcoming TV show. That should be interesting to watch. I wrote about the house before and compared it to the place where Boo Radley lived. The house used to sit on a huge lot which included space for an additional house next door. That parcel was sold off and a brand new structure is being built now. It will appear in the post immediately below.
It will be really interesting to see how town responds to the new house on the corner compared to 704 Eaton Street. One will be all new and the other will be renewed. I hope the renewal preserves the character and gets rid of the quirkiness of the past. It was odd, almost inhabited.  CLICK HERE for more photos of 704 Eaton Street.

700 Eaton Street
I dug into my old shoebox and found a photo of the dapper owner of the Curry Drug Store once located at the corner of Elizabeth and Eaton. That building was razed years ago and the lot sat vacant for decades. The lot was recently sold and the lot cleared. A new structure is being built in compliance with Florida's strict new building codes. A cement pad was laid upon which a concrete block building was erected. Fir strips were attached to CBS structure and then plywood was attached. A vapor barrier wrapped the plywood after which Hardiboard siding was hung. The city fathers in their wisdom gave the new owners permission to sell expensive wine at this place. Neighbors fought the proposed use, but lost. Don't we have enough joints that sell booze in this town?
The old garden and giant Royal Poinciana Tree were cleared to make room for the new CBS building.

Four homes on Johnson Lane are undergoing varying degrees of renovation. Each one is being undertaken independent of the other. The lead house and biggest undertaking is actually located at 820 Olivia Street. That house sits on a large L-shaped lot upon which a huge rear structure is being built that includes a pool and a covered structure that looks similar to a carport.

 826 Johnson Lane
The backyard was thick with trees and foliage. It looks like most of the debris on the outside has been removed. There interior was a separate mess. I am sure all of that is gone or will be soon so the the builders can redo the interiors.  Remember, this and the other little houses on Johnson Lane are simple little boxes.
830 Johnson Lane

 832 Johnson Lane

1 Nassau Lane
This little cottage is located on a picturesque slow lane of Key West which abruptly ends about 300 feet to the south. There are several drop dead gorgeous smaller homes on this lane. I wrote about this house a couple of months ago when it was for sale. I showed it a few times. I thought it would be a good buy for someone. It came off the market. Then a couple of weeks ago I was showing a neighboring property when I noticed the house had been painted and work was being done.

421 Simonton Street
Just about everybody in town has driven or walked by 421 Simonton Street at sometime. The 1912 Historic Sanborn Fire Map shows two nearly identical buildings situated next to each other and identified as A and B located at what is now 421 Simonton Street.  The 1899 Sanborn Fire Map showed a single totally different which had existed for at least ten years earlier. So the two twin buildings were built sometime between 1899 and 1912.  A narrow concrete block addition was added to the buildings replacing the original front porches. This concrete addition was used as commercial space for decades until March 2017 when the concrete block facade was removed and renovation of the historic buildings began.
CLICK HERE or progress photos of the ongoing renovation of 421 Simonton Street which will have five transiently licensed apartments sometime in the future.  Don't get all excited folks. The owner has had the transient licenses for several years. They did not materialize out of nowhere and there is no inside plot to put those licenses here.

419 Simonton Street
A construction permit box appeared at the front of 419 Simonton Street a couple of weeks ago. CLICK HERE for progress photos that may appear if something starts to happen at this location. I wrote about this property a few years ago when it was for sale. I thought then and believe now this is an incredible property. The rear yard extends 142 feet. 

1500 Albury Street
1500 Albury Street shows that construction can be completed if the project is managed properly. The owner acted as the general contractor on this project, but he engaged a licensed contractor to build the structure. The owner interviewed and engaged all the subcontractors ahead of construction and had each subcontractorcommitted to being on site at specific benchmark dates. The result was the house was completed by year end 2016. The finished home is available for purchase today. See me for details.
CLICK HERE for construction photos.

1500 Albury Street, Key West

1410 Washington Street
I began snapping photos of this Casa Marina East home in June 2016 just before the mid-century house was razed.  I sold the property on the back side of this lot. That owner just razed that house and began construction of a new home. I will share those pictures in the next Projects of Key West update. There are numerous projects underway where mid-century houses are being taken down and new houses being built. Most of these projects are being built in areas other than Old Town and the parts of Casa Marina and The Meadows where homes are not designated as being of historical importance, Most of the redevelopment lots are selling around $500,000. One new lot in the Casa Marina is under contract for $1.5 million. A 4200 sq ft lot at 417 Agnela Street sold for $450,000 in September 2016.  A big new houses is being built there right now. It faces public housing across the street. Naysayers who think town is over-priced don't get it. The bargain prices are history. New houses are replacing the old places and prices are on the rise.
CLICK HERE to view more photos of this home which has many of the same structural construction features used in 700 Eaton Street.

1100 White Street 
They say FIRE never strikes twice in the same place. But they are sometimes wrong. The commercial building located at the busy corner of White and Virginia Streets burned twice. The last time the fire was so severe that the concrete block building had to be demolished. The lot sat vacant for several years except when it was briefly used as a place where tourists could build sand sculptures. An ambitious project the original footprint was undertaken. Under theory this would involve less interference by the city and various citizen boards The new building has three separate units as did the original structure. The building is now completed.

January 2011
CLICK HERE to the construction photos of 1100 White Street and also renovation photos of 1018 White Street shown below.

1018 White Street 
Several years ago I wrote a blog about the falling down house formally located at 1018 White Street which the city fathers allowed to be razed. (First photo below.) It was beyond repair. The city wanted to add a new mausoleum at the cemetery and identified another house located  at 819 Olivia Street which the city allowed to be moved to the 1018 White location. There was an existing property already located at the rear of the lot which looks like it was updated in the process.
819 Olivia Street on wheels and ready to move to new location.
819 Olivia St as it looked in 1965

1401 Grinnell Street
It's not all that often that a relatively new house (built new in 2003) gets a thorough make-over, but that is what has been going on (and on and on) since mid July 2016.  The house is located on the corner of Grinnell at South Street in the Casa Marina Area amid homes priced in the low one million dollar to $3.5 million range. I live nearby and as snooty as I am, I was really upset when the house was built. It made no sense for the area given the value of homes here. Let's look at what has been accomplished in the one year since the trees were removed from the perimeter.
September 30, 2016
Photographed Sunday July 16, 2017
CLICK HERE for "progress photos".

1010 Whitehead Street
I wrote a blog about this modest little cottage a couple of years ago. It was once the home of one the really great men of Key West - Lawrence Formica, the entrepreneur who created LaTeDa. His house changed hands after his passing and later became a bank owned property that was priced very low. The new owner has begun to renovate.

221 Petronia Street
I wrote a blog about this fire damaged (then a bank owned property) building in January 1015. It went under contract immediately after it was listed and for good reason. The place is very well located just two blocks from Duval Street and near several popular restaurants. The new Truman Waterfront Park is two blocks to the west. 

828 Elizabeth Street
I wrote about 828 Elizabeth Street three years ago just before Christmas. The house was a duplex where an exterior stair provided access to the upper apartment. The lower level apartment was a warren of rooms where the tenants shared refrigerator and cooking privileges. The interiors were gutted and work started on giving the old girl a sturdy new foundation. Work has been stalled for the past couple of months.

903 Eaton Street
I have a nice little project site available for purchase which is located at 903 Eaton Street. This happened to be the largest lot in Old Town where the existing concrete block structure may be taken down and a brand new house can be built. The lot measures 50 feet wide and 103 deep or 5300 sq ft. CLICK HERE. If you consider what has been built and what is being built, you may just appreciate the size fo the lot and ability to take down a non-historic existing building.  
There are a lot of other projects underway. I will add a new update in the not too distant future to let my loyal readers see what is going on.  In the meantime, if you are looking to buy a place in Key West where you can create your own dream home, please consider contacting me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642.  I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.


Anonymous said...

Great blog, very informative!

Maru said...

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Anonymous said...

Saw lots of trucks at a cute eyebrow on Fleming this morning. Any idea what's going on there? Looks like one oddly large lot for old town. Between Frances and White. Can't remember the address. Very cool block of Fleming though.

Gary Thomas said...

I saw the trucks as well. I wrote about this property at least twice. There is a second house at the rear where there is street access from Stuckey Lane to off street parking. The lot is very deep and fairly wide for Old Town. I have no idea what is going on. The front house was update a bit just a couple of years ago. Perhaps the owner is preparing to put it back on the market.


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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.