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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

624 Louisa Street - Old Town - Key West - Short Sale

Four years ago I wrote about a new structure that was being built at Gato Village Pocket Park, a small park on Louisa Street just east of First Sate Bank. The park was created to commemorate by design and structure the historic cigar maker cottages that were the predominant type of housing in that section of old Key West. The old Gato Cigar Factory at the corner of Simonton Street at Virginia Street is now a Monroe County office building.

Inviting front porch

View from the front porch

A real life cigar maker's cottage is located about one-half a block away at 624 Louisa Street. The home has been enlarged and probably made grand beyond the expectation of the families that once lived there. It is offered for sale today as a short sale. The listing Realtor describes 624 Louisa Street this way:
"Superbly crafted designer home finished w/ meticulous attention to detail & style. 2 story addition overlooking pool & tropical gardens compliment the original conch cottage architecture creating a total of 3bd/3.5ba plus pool cabana. Careful selection of luxurious finishes include copper sinks, custom tile showers, Jacuzzi bathtubs, wired throughout for sound, custom cabinetry, granite & top of the line fixtures to name a few. Beautiful outdoor spaces within a very private setting finished in brick pavers & mature landscape complete this tropical retreat. Do not miss the chance to step inside this picture perfect gem just a short walk to famous Duval Street."
The original cottage has been expanded and is now laid out to meet the needs of a present day owners with different lifestyles and housing needs. I think a new owner may likely use this home as a part time residence and rent the home as a legal vacation rental during non-personal use times. The house is perfectly setup to that end.

Front bedroom

Jack and Jill Bath

Second Bedroom

The house is laid out with two guest bedrooms on the main level that share a Jack and Jill bath. The living area and a grand kitchen with custom cabinetry are located at the rear of the house. French doors open out to the pool and cabana at the rear. Upstairs you will find the very private and extra large master suite with vaulted ceiling, large walk-in closet, and inviting bath with jacuizzi and a separate shower.

Master bedroom with vaulted ceiling and deck that overlooks pool below

Luxurious master bath

Pool and cabana (with mini kitchen and bath)

624 Louisa Street has 1676 sq ft of living space on two floors. All interiors are top of the line construction and materials. No expense was spared in the renovation and expansion of this once small cigar maker's cottage into a very large three bedroom, two bath residence with off street parking and a pool. The asking price is $799,000. CLICK HERE to view the Key West Association of Realtors mls datasheet and listing photos. I took more photos which you can view if you CLICK HERE in a slide show format.

This property has a good rental history as a vacation rental. A buyer looking for a large home that can actually function and rent well as a vacation rental ought to take a look at this property.

If you would like to see this house or any other property in Key West, please contact me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West, Florida.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

1517 Washington Street - Key West - Dreams Fulfilled

1517 Washington Street - June 2011

1517 Washington Street - June 2011

February 2012 the look is just a bit different

Some Readers may remember when I wrote about 1517 Washington Street in May 2011 when Preferred Properties listed it for sale at the asking price of $425.000. I wrote:
"The house was built in 1963 so it has the architecture of that era. The slanted roof and jalousie windows give this house a distinguished look. Some may not like it, but others will embrace it. Much of the architecture in the Mid Town and New Town areas of Key West have similar features. Some buyers do blow-outs or tear downs and reconfigure and expand the living space. Others prefer to conserve money and fix that which is broken and update that which needs it. When money is tight, some new owners prefer to keep things simple and do low cost improvements rather than big renovation projects. This house could go either way in my opinion. This house has been perfectly maintained and will be just fine if left as is. Serious! It is old Florida."
The property was purchased by Kent Ducote and Guillermo Orozco. Kent is a Realtor that works at a Doug Mayberry Realty. Guillermo Orozco is an architect whose name and designs I have referred to several times in my little blog. They just completed their renovation of 1517 Washington Street and I was invited to see the results.

I had not been past the house in the months since it was sold. As I drove near I immediately saw a large fence in front and recognized Guillerm0's sleek minimalist style.

The new owners removed the old jalousie windows, revamped the kitchen, and added a new bath on the east side of the house. They kept most of the interiors the way they were, but they are still different. The Cuban tile floors and the stained wood ceiling remain the two focal points of this mid century home. The interiors were painted white so the interior will not confuse the observer with too many diversions from the simplicity of the design. Less really is more. Take a look at some before and after shots of the same living areas and see if you do not agree that for these new homeowners, theirs is a dream fulfilled.

Former living room. Note the door to left of the clam shell table. That door is now the main entry into the home.

The new living room pays homage to the old Cuban tiles

Former semi-enclosed front porch

Contemporary home office anyone would admire

This kitchen had been updated from original but...

...It lacked the finesse the new owners desired.

The wall separating the living room from the kitchen and dining area was shortened and new cabinets and counters were installed. The Cuban tiled floors gracefully blend the two living areas together.

Original master bedroom

Same space, different look, new bath added to the left

Stunning new addition added so much utility and grace to this dream home.

Former second bedroom ... now a functional office

The old carport... now the inviting entry into this lovely home.

This project was much more than just replacing windows, painting walls, installing a new kitchen, adding a new bathroom, and erecting a privacy fence. Each individual element was part of a harmonious plan that used the existing building and its design elements as the basis upon which the replacements and additions would play upon. The result is a simple and harmonious blend of old with new. Not everybody can pull this off. That's why regular folks hire architects and designers if they want to get things done correctly. This blog is not a plug for Guillermo, but you must respect his and Kent's vision. Proof is in the pictures. CLICK HERE to see more photos.

If you are looking for a Key West house that you could turn into your dream home, please CLICK HERE to search the Key West Association of Realtors mls database. If you see something you like, please contact me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or send me an email at I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West. Let me help you find your place in Paradise.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

More Projects of Key West

618 Grinnell Street - one of the new projects of Key West

Last July I wrote about some of the current remodeling projects that were under construction in Key West. Seven months later those same projects are still being worked on. And there are new homes being constructed as well. I don't know why it takes so long to cut and nail some boards together down here. Whatever the reason, I thought you might like to see some photos of the progress (or slowness) of the Projects of Key West.

730 Southard Street is probably the most prominent project because of its location and the grandeur of the original home. I wrote about 730 Southard Street on at least eight different occasions. It is one of the most notable houses in Key West. It sold in December 2010. Work started last year when fencing went up and laborers started cleaning decades of paint from the old house. More recently scaffolding went up, and now crews of workers are busy at work. The old garage on William Street came down, and a new structure is being built. Also, the owner purchased the adjacent cottage at 608 William Street which I heard will become the guest house for the main house. The William Street house has a huge back yard which will permit the creation of a larger pool and gardens for the main house. I can't wait to see what happens here.

A lot of people wanted to buy this place before it was even listed for sale

Old photo that shows both 608 William Street and 730 Southard Street

February 2012

While offered for sale - viewed from William Street

Remodeling is a scary undertaking, especially in Key West

Temporary fence was added to keep lookie-loos at bay

Scaffolding has gone up and workers are busy everywhere

Old garage was torn down

February 2012

The eyebrow house at 618 Grinnell Street will be raising other eyebrows this year as it undergoes its transformation. This demur house sits on one of the prettiest blocks in Old Town with several equally beautiful old homes.

618 Grinnell Street in June 2011 after a lot of aged foliage was removed

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The house has been elevated to construct new piers to support the restoration of this old beauty

730 Fleming Street (below) is turning into a real beauty. The photo below shows the house half a century ago followed by a listing photo followed by and a couple of pics from last week taken on a gray day. The interior has the historic integrity intact, but the rooms have been updated to meet requirements of our modern lifestyle. The adjacent cottage on William Street has been give a new lease of life-what a dramatic change that building received. Yet you can't see any of the substantive improvements the new owners did from the street. They added a pool and landscaping which created a wonderful outdoor living area that is just awesome.

730 Fleming Street in 1965

730 Fleming Street in 2009

730 Fleming Street in February 2012

Hidden from public view - what an awesome home!

A new project has begun across the street at 801-807 Fleming Street. The new owner of that two house parcel has begun an ambitious remodel of both properties. Matthew Stratton, architect, has designed the renovation. Matthew is one of my favorite Key West architects. Let's watch the progress on this property in future blogs on the projects of Key West.

1130 Fleming Street was a bank foreclosure that sold in 2010. Many competing offers were made on this house. The inside had been messed around with by amateurs. The entire rear addition was falling into the ground, and the main house had major stress issues. I showed it to several potential buyers. One made an offer but not high enough to get the property. This house has one of the better locations in Old Town. Compare the way it looked in 2009 to the way in looks now that the remodeling nears completion.

An old For Sale by Owner sign taken before the Bank foreclosed

Rear addition was demolished a and new addition has been added

Another landmark property at 426 Elizabeth Street sold in March 2010. It looks like it has been gutted of much of the faux Victorian interiors and exterior distractions that were added by a former owner. The before photos show a house that was out of character with other Key West homes. Exterior walls have since removed and rebuilt. The old "new" kitchen is gone. It did not work aesthetically.

Elizabeth Street before current renovation

Work in progress in 2011

Looks like it is nearing completion -February 2012

Cleaned-up south side looks sharp

Rear yard in 2010

Work in Progress in December 2011 - view from west looking east

February 2012

Kitchen addition as it looked in 2010 - very dysfunctional

Total renovation of the kitchen permitted addition of a large pool

I wrote a couple of blogs about 911 Watson Street. It was a "diamond in the rough" that required a buyer with a big imagination, a good architect, a competent builder, and money in the bank. The existing house and some other buildings sat on a 10,000 sq ft lot. The property is located on a quiet little street that dead ends at the South side of Key West cemetery. The former owner is a Realtor. He told me the neigborhing house on Olivia Street used to be a whorehouse. The neighbor up on Truman Avenue is a club called Bare Assets. There is an absolutely wonderful home across the way that is one of the prettiest compounds in all of Key West and also one of the most expensive homes on the island. The location was an immediate "turn-off" to some potential buyers while others saw the little Key West cottage on the huge lot as having huge potential.

Former owner of 911 Watson Street said the house next door used to be a whorehouse

Not everybody wants a house that sits on a prominent street. Some are content to have a home hidden almost hidden from view. After all, you can walk or bike to almost any place you need to go in Old Town within a matter of a few minutes.

The house was hidden behind a huge fence and decades worth of trees and shrubs

Early photo at beginning of the project

February 2012

A former garage is gone and the side and rear yards are now open awaiting development. I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one. I really want this place to be something extra special. Note Matthew Stratton is the architect on 911 Watson Street too.

I wrote about 405 Olivia Street on a couple of occasions. It was a bank owned property located across the street from the Ernest Hemingway House. The place had lots of problems that started on the failing ground floor that had been covered with Mexican tile to the idiotic floor plan which had three bedrooms on the top floor and the bathroom on the ground floor. The lot is huge and that provided room for a pool. As usual, I had one buyer who made a lowball offer thinking he could steal this house from the bank. My guy did not get the property. The new owner hired one of the best builders in Key West who is ripping the old house apart and rebuilding it in place. Stay tuned to see what happens here.

405 Olivia Street when it was bank owned in 2011

February 2012 another work in progress

In early 2010 I wrote about the demolition of the old Univesal Cleaners at 514 Elizabeth Street. Two years later a new two story home is slowly becoming a reality. I'm not belly aching over the time because I know the contractor is doing a first class job in building this house. The same contractor built another new house in the Casa Marina area that was completed in February 2011 for customers who bought lot from me. They reported total satisfaction with the contractor's work ethic and performance. They job came in on time and on budget. The owner of
514 Elizabeth Street engaged the same architect, Tom Pope, to design the new home.

There is some new construction and new renovations going on in the Casa Marina area as well. One of the most admired homes in Key West is getting a bit of a face lift. I thought I would post a couple of 'before' photos so that we can track the progress on 924 Flagler Avenue. Stay tuned and planned on being impressed.

924 Flagler Avenue February 2012

You can't see much of anything today. Interiors have been gutted to some extent.

Piers have been poured at a new project across the street from 924 Flagler Avenue. Matthew Stratton is the architect on this big project.

The George Reynolds House, below, is located next door to the west

George Reynolds House circa 1910

Much of the Casa Marina area was developed after World War II. A post modern church sat on the lot where the new construction is being built. It was an "A Frame" that was damaged during Hurricane Wilma. Good riddance. It was ugly and did not fit into the area. I wonder how well the new house will blend with the historic home to the right (the George Reynolds House) and 924 Flagler Avenue across the street. We shall see.

In December 2010 I wrote about a large development parcel at the corner of Reynolds Street and Waddell Avenue which is located just north of the Casa Marina Resort. Tom Pope designed the new house that has risen from the ground up.

December 2011 from Reynolds Street

Fall of 2011

Substantial progress being made in February 2012

I am in awe of architects and designers who can create unique new living spaces out of the old houses in Key West. I respect the men (and women) who are the contractors and laborers who do the actual work that turns piles of lumber into new homes that will last into the next century. Almost anybody can dig a hole and plant a tree or a bush. But only a few really creative people can design outdoor spaces that can make your heart leap. I really enjoy watching the laborious process of a dream home become a reality. In the long run creating the new projects of Key West is more than just sawing lumber and pounding nails. It is a combination of creativity, hard work, a lot of money, and the dream of someone who visited the island of Key West enough times to decide this is where I want to live.

If you are thinking of buying a place in Key West CLICK HERE to search the Key West mls for your dream home. If you find something that interests you, please consider working with me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or by email at I am a buyer's agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West. Let me help you find your Key West Project!


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.