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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

812 Fleming Street #5, Key West - Classic Key West Architecture

I have been selling houses and condos in Key West for twenty years. I remember a conversation I had with an agent in my office at the beginning of my real estate career. The lady agent had made a remark about a particular house as if she had just been inside. That puzzled me because the house was just listed that day. I asked her how she knew so much about the new listing. She said something like "Gary, there are only so many houses in Key West. We keep selling the same houses over and over again."  I got it. And that remark has stuck with me over the years because it applies not only to the theme of selling homes in a limited market area but also of having been inside the same house (or condo) on multiple occasions over the years. That is the case for the new listing at 812 Fleming Street #5, Key West.  I wrote about this same unit several years ago when it looked much different than it does today. Back then the unit had been abused by a renter who fancied himself to be an artist. I called the guy a lamebrain. The place has had two owners since my previous blog. The vestiges of the man without a brain are completely eradicated. Today the unit is spiffy clean and ready for a new owner who will have the best view of the gayest street in all of Key West.
Unit #5 is located on the top floor of the Seafoam Condominiums - a six unit residential condominium complex which also includes two commercial condos on the ground floor - a doctor's office and a tuxedo rental shop. Timmy Tuxedo to be exact. The building was renovated into condominiums a couple of decades ago. I remember the first time I entered the place. I was awed by the architecture. This is simply one of the most magnificent buildings in all of Key West.
The historic is laid out with solid geometric precision. There are basically four residential units on each floor with two units in the rear which have views of the pool and two units in front which share a large balcony spanning the width of the building.A partition provides privacy for the units on either side. A skylight in the middle of the atrium fills the hallways with light during the daytime.
This one bedroom unit is laid out fairly simply. Although two doors can provide entry into the unit, the primary access door is located off the kitchen. An adjacent closet provides a bit of storage as well as spatial separation from the combined dining and living room. A door opens from the living area out to the covered front porch.
There is a wide doorway opening out from the bedroom into the living room. A door on the window side opens into a small hall that leads to the bathroom. (The bathroom is located next to the kitchen and serves as guest bath without having to go into the bedroom.) Another door opens from the bedroom out to the front porch. CLICK HERE to view more photos.
I personally love this outdoor space. You can sit on this porch and watch Key West come alive in the morning. At first light you will see joggers and dog walkers. Later delivery trucks and carpenters and building tradesmen will appear on their way to work. Later trolley cars and trains will mix with tourists in cars and on bikes making their way down this street filled with homes of former millionaires and current ones. An hour or so before sunset you will notice the traffic dies down and the sidewalks become more busy as tourists head west on either side of Fleming Street with their destination being either Mallory Square to watch sunset celebration or a bar or restaurant or both. In the late evening tourists and locals will walk back to their guest house or hotel room or to their home. Duval Street and the Historic Seaport are only a couple of blocks away. This is the perfect location to be near both. And around 5:00 PM on the next to last Friday of each October, this balcony will have one of the best views of the Peoples Parade during Fantasy Fest.
The Seafoam Condominiums have a shared pool surrounded by palm trees and tropical foliage. The small cottage at poolside is the coin operated laundry.
CLICK HERE to view the Key West MLS datasheet for 812 Fleming Street Unit 5 which is offered for sale at $599,000. Then please call 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.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

1404 Newton Street, Key West - A Meadows Charmer!

The listing Realtor describes 1404 Newton Street located in the Meadows Area of Key West pictured above this way:
"This exceptional 2 BD 2 BA conch home is located in the popular Meadows neighborhood. As you enter the house you walk past the relaxing covered front porch and into a wonderful open floor plan with views through the living room and kitchen to the rear deck and pool. The bedrooms are en-suit and at opposite ends of the home. One of the bedrooms is currently utilized as a yoga studio. The heated pool is fenced for total privacy and there is a convenient tiled outdoor shower. The kitchen has new stainless appliances and there is a separate laundry room. The metal roof was replaced in 12/2016, there are metal window coverings and impact french doors, and a bricked off street parking."
 I dug into my old shoebox and found a fifty-two year old black and white photo of the same house. I think it looks so much better now.  In fact this little block is a nice little enclave of mostly updated homes but located away from the noise and commotion for houses located in some parts of Old Town. I took a photo of the house across the street. It is one of many quaint houses on this block.  And it is still located within a walking distance to Duval and the seaport.
According to the Monroe County Property Appraiser this house was built in 1943 just near the end of World War II. I found an aerial photo taken in 1920 (below) that shows the general area including what I think is 1404 Newton Street which I marked with an arrow. Longtime Readers may recall that the Army Barracks and parade grounds are located about 100 feet due north of this property.  It could be that the old house shown in the aerial photo was razed and a new house was built in 1943. But I doubt it.
Many of the houses in this area were built after 1900. This home is what I would call bungalow style.  It was updated and then updated again. Today the house is laid out with a main entry hall on the right side which leads to the living area and the kitchen at the rear.
The current owner uses the guest bedroom located at the front of the house as the primary bedroom and uses the master bedroom and bath (located at the rear) as a home gym or yoga studio. Both bedrooms have baths and the separation provides privacy whether from family members or guests.  The master bedroom is very large especially when compared to so many houses in Old Town. The photo just above shows the laundry room which includes both washer and dryer plus cabinets for storage. Two delicate French doors open out to the east side yard which has abundant storage space and a grill.
The master suite opens out to the sunny deck and pool and spa located at the rear. One of the things I constantly tell buyers is to not assume anything about a property in Key West. This is a relatively big house on a good sized yard. It may not look like that from the street, but when you see it in real life, you will be amazed at how large and spacious this house is. 
 I borrowed the listing agents photos with her permission. I should have taken my own photos of the pool area as the view from the southwest corner shows an expansive sky with swaying palms. This is a real delight. So many houses in Old Town are set so close together that owners only get scant sunlight and have diminished privacy. This is the opposite of that. Potential buyers will need to see the house for themselves to verify the veracity of what I write. It is true.  You'll see.
CLICK HERE to view the Key West MLS datasheet and additional photos. Then please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, to schedule a private showing of this charming home Meadows Area home complete with pool, spa, off street parking, a newer roof with clips and approved metal shutters for all windows and doors. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

1403 Catherine Street, Key West, Florida - La Casa Roja

Just Listed, but not by me, La Casa Roja, the red house, located at 1403 Catherine Street in Key West, Florida. This is one of my favorite houses in all of Key West. Let me share with you some pictures and a couple of stories about this place that makes it so special.
I dug down into my old shoebox and found the black and white photo taken in 1965.  I found another color photo from a previous mls listing before the house was renovated by one of Key West's premiere architects for his own use. The current owners purchased this home five years ago. I was the buyers' agent. I remember the home inspector meeting with us after looking at the house for a couple of hours. He said something like "This is a first.  I could not find anything wrong!  I have never seen a house this well done!" It's the same today. And it remains picture perfect. CLICK HERE to view more photos.
This simple little house is simply just that: a simple little house. But that is an understatement of grand proportion. It is elegant in its simplicity. The new wide oak plank floors were custom milled as were the extra-large crown molding and the extra-wide baseboards. New cedar doors were custom made. The original windows were restored to retain their character.
Doors and floor patterns in the original house were reworked to make the house flow efficiently. The relocated kitchen for example opens onto the hallway adjacent to the living room. The kitchen windows tilt and provide access to the covered outside veranda bar. I would not call this home a "party house", but it was certainly designed for an owner who loves to entertain in style. The kitchen is the heart of this home. And the several social gathering spots flow from or toward the heart of this home.
 What was once the kitchen is now the master bedroom which has its own private covered porch with hot tub. The master bedroom features two sets of French style doors and screens which allow the room to open up to the back yard. Mirrored pocket doors conceal the generous ten foot long closet. Paneled wainscoting and coffered ceiling add depth and interest to this cozy retreat.
And then there is the two story carriage house. It's the perfect place to house your classic Key West car or the perfect place for your own gym, workshop, or studio. Upstairs there is a secret retreat that is just as simple and just as elegant as the rest of the main house. Some people skimp on things that are barely seen. Here, the barely seen is treated as a treasure for the very few.
Not only did the former owner not paint the house white like nearly every other house in town, he turned the house and lot into an ingenious show piece of how one could reinvent an old house.  What might have been a walkway on the east side of the house became a covered bar.  A small deck off the master bedroom became a cozy outdoor living space. The old garage became a third bedroom. There is no wasted here.
I dare the reader to walk around the outside of this property and find something amiss or something not done. Every place you look you see solutions to everyday issues. The front door hurricane panel (photo below) was turned into a whimsical work of art and greets guests near the bar.
This house and and all of its components were designed to standout from the crowd and function properly. It does. Indeed. Some readers may say "I could do that." Perhaps. But most of us see a home like this and admire it with awe. That is why I discerning buyer will seize the opportunity to own a property of this caliber. You won't find anything like it in this price range. I promise you that!

I have sold several houses in this immediate area in the past few years. This little part of town is on fire right now with renovation.  Speaking of fire, in a couple of months all of the Royal Poinciana Trees in town will be ablaze with color. This particular area has a treasure trove of these magnificent trees.

CLICK HERE to view the Key West MLS for 1403 Catherine Street. Then please call 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. Some very lucky person is going to buy this little treasure and experience the elegance of living 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.