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Sunday, March 31, 2013

618 White Street - Key West - Easter Sunday Open House

Mr. Elwood P. Dowd saw what others could not fathom. Why don't you take a few moments this Easter Sunday to view the Open House at 618 White Street in Old Town Key West.   Open from 12:00 to 3:00 PM.

Charming Wood Frame Home with Two Bedrooms plus Loft. Spacious Main Floor Living Space opens into Newer Kitchen with Copper Lined Ceiling, Granite Counter-tops, and Stainless Steel Appliances. Clean as a Whistle throughout. Large Backyard is Nicely Landscaped and has Room for a Pool.

Checkout the video below

CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet on this home.
Price Reduced
Now Offered at $459,000  

Hosted by Gary Thomas, Realtor, 305-766-2642

Saturday, March 30, 2013

1218 Varela Street - Old Town - Key West

1218 Varela Street - Key West

Bring your flip flops, a toothbrush, and some clean clothes - that's all you need if you purchase the new listing at 1218 Varela Street in Key West. This house has been meticulously updated and it sparkles. The listing remarks state:
"Elegant two story, renovated 4/3 1/2 home on the edge of Old Town South. The owners have done an impeccable job turning this home into a Key West Show place. As you enter the foyer, you are immediately drawn to a view of the outside pool and lanai. Bright colors surround you. On the first floor is a large cooks kitchen with warm wood cabinets, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, complete with a pass through window. On the second level there is a very large ensuite master with a sitting area. The bathroom is all marble with access to a walk-in closet. Down the hall are the other two bedrooms which share a modern bathroom, with a terrace the length of the front of the house. Designer elements throughout to be appreciated."

The front porch presents the face of what is awaiting on the inside.

The front entry leads to the living area at the rear and the pool area with the lanai and guest cottage beyond. The kitchen sits at the left rear and opens into the living area and also has pass through windows that open out to the lanai.

A comfortable office is located at the front of the house on the main floor. A new command central was installed to provide whole house television, telephone, Internet and wi-fi access at one centralized point.I guess one might call it a gentleman's man cave.
Upstairs you will find a delightful master suite. The bedroom area is quite large by itself. The adjacent sitting area provides a nice alternative area to relax when the house is filled with relatives or guests. The en-suite master bath has marble everywhere. A large walk-in closet completes the master bedroom suite.
There are two other bedrooms on the second floor. The bedroom front bedroom has a door that opens onto the second floor three bay front porch. The two bedrooms share a large bath.

The lanai provides gracious covered outdoor living space overlooking the 43 foot heated pool and adjacent spa. The guest cottage with bath is at the rear. The guest cottage was updated with new interiors and HVAC. It has the old cottage look from the outside but it is ever so cute and functional on the inside. All of the deck areas feature TREK Decks. A new sprinkler system was added and all of the landscaping was designed and installed by a local landscape architect.

 1218 Varela Street is offered at $1,795,000. (Home furnishings offered separately.)  CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet and to view listing photos. Please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or Cory Held, 305-240-0355 to arrange a private showing.

Friday, March 29, 2013

It's a Crying Shame - Key West

Longtime readers will recall that I have written several blogs that have chronicled some of the ongoing renovation or remodeling of older homes and the infrequent construction of new homes.  I have been taking photos and have been planning on doing an update in the very near future. To my deep dismay I saw an item in Thursday's Key West Citizen that totally shocked me. The newspaper reported that one of our lovely remodel projects had been damaged by fire. I drove past the house twice that day and went back this morning to take a couple of pics to share with you. What happened here is a crying shame to those of us who love the old houses of Key West.

I wrote about 319 Grinnell Street many months ago when it was offered as a bank owned property. Many buyers looked at the property. I showed it several times during the short time it was available.  The house had been turned into three separate living units, illegally, of course. That happens a lot here.  I remember the back half of the house had a newer kitchen and a couple of sets of French doors that looked out to an old cistern that had been converted into a plunge pool. A little shed was in the backyard. It might have made a cute cabana for some new owner.


Several months passed between the time it was listed for sale and the time it actually closed. I would drive past the house on occasion to see what, if any, activity had begun. Then one day I was surprised to see that the house had been jacked up and the old failing piers were being replaced by new ones. That to me was the first signal that the new owner was going to do a substantial remodel. Hooray!  Too many people cheap out and do a minimal fix and leave things undone (and unsaid).

Last week I took the photos below. Was I impressed? Yes I was! Look how crisp and clean the old girl was looking. I was so excited to see the place being treated properly.  Lovingly.


I took the photos of 329 Grinnell Street on March 29th, the day after the fire. So sad. 
It looks to me like the majority of the damage was in the front part of the original house. When I took photos last week I did not see any drywall so I assume most of the damage was to the wood framing.

Whatever the cause, I hope the owner will be able to salvage the building and complete the renovation.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

4 Pinder Lane - Key West

This Key West property is a singular sensation because of its unique history, architecture, location, and usage. The original home was built in 1859 and was updated and expanded with contemporary additions in the 1970s.
4 Pinder Lane as it appeared in 1965
 I first saw this property about five years ago when it was listed (with an adjacent cottage that has since been sold) at the then asking price of $4.5 million. My buyers were so taken by this property that they required a second visit that evening to see how home looks in the nighttime.  "Wow!" would be an appropriate description.  This property is simply unforgettable and very romantic in the evening!
The property is now listed, but not by me, at the reduced asking price of $2,495,000CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet and to view listing photos.

If you have been following the Key West mls regularly, you must have noticed that many Key West houses are referred to as 'quintessential Key West cottages'. 4 Pinder Lane isn't one of those. It is the opposite. The house is a blend of an historic Key West home which was updated with mid-20th Century additions. The house is both sophisticated and grand, but it still has small intimate spaces for normal living. The house has 2657 sq ft of living space situated on an irregular 9887 sq ft lot located at the end of a lane surrounded by some very pricey homes.
The house as presently configured has two bedrooms. There is room, however, to add a cottage where you could a third guest bedroom and bath.  The master bedroom has a vaulted ceiling and two Romeo and Juliet balconies. One balcony looks down onto 1970's living room to the north.  The other balcony looks down to the new kitchen addition to the east.
View from Romeo and Juliet balcony off master bedroom

Seamless transition from living room to pool area

The main living area has an 18' vaulted ceiling with a glass wall of windows and doors that frame the entire room and that look out to the very large pool and gardens. The design is so comfortable and informal that you immediately feel welcome in this wonderful living space. The brick floors of the living room make a seamless transition to the pool area which also has brick pavers. It is as if the outdoors is part of the indoors - only the outdoors 'ceiling' is boundless. The pool area and gardens at night just screamed to host a really swank cocktail party with a hundred of one's closest friends.

Garden extends 15 feet beyond the lengthy pool

Add a second story above Pool bath house to create new guest bedroom

The kitchen and dining area are in a separate wing of the house which also has a separate vaulted ceiling. In most houses the kitchen is the 'gathering' where family and friends talk (and drink) while the chef cooks. This kitchen is extra large and designed for entertaining. French doors open out to a rear garden area. CLICK HERE to view a slide show of photos of the house and grounds.

Kitchen was designed for entertaining

Rear deck overlooks the bricked courtyard on the east side of the property

Both the living room and kitchen have what I call Romeo and Juliet balconies that look down from the second floor core of the house where the two bedrooms are located. I can just see a Jules or Juliet up in the bedrooms running from balcony to balcony calling out to Romeo amid all the people below attending some big gala.

The listing Realtor describes 4 Pinder Lane like this way:
"Just Reduced! Priced To Sell! On one of Old Town's biggest lots, just under 1/4 acre, luxuriously renovated & expanded, this home on the Nat'l Registry of Historic Places is a sweeping sophisticated sanctuary ideal for entertaining. A living rm w/18ft ceiling and fireplace opens through a wall of windows to lush gardens & huge pool w/cabana bar, poolside bath/dressing rm. In addition to a gracious dining rm, an enormous eat-in chef's kitchen wrapped in 18ft ceiling w/windows and French doors. There are 2 Bosch ovens & dishwashers, Subzero fridge, 2 sinks and ice maker. Upstairs the master suite w/dressing rm + sitting rm/ and orig. 3rd bedroom opens to a roof-top sundeck. 2 car parking, lg storage cottage w/ample room to add guest house"
The phrase "Sensational Old Key West history at its best!" refers to the legendary writers, artists, actors, and Key Westers that frequented this one-of-a-kind property over the years. Sharon Well's author of "See Key West" wrote that the owner of 4 Pinder Lane "introduced Tallulah Bankhead to the island. Clad in flowery pedalpushers, she could sometimes be seen at Fausto’s Food Palace." Cary Grant, Leonard Bernstein, Burt Reynolds, Anne Jackson among many others who were guests at this home.

Pinder Lane is another slow lane in Key West located in the 500 block of William Street. It dead ends about 250 feet east of William Street where the lane ends at 4 Pinder Lane. Two other homes are located on Pinder Lane as well as a very fancy guest cottage which recently became an extension of the main house located on William Street. An abutting neighbor on Southard Street purchased a vacant lot on Pinder Lane to create off street parking.  If you buy 4 Pinder Lane you will have some mighty fine neighbors.

4 Pinder Lane is now listed, but not by me, at the reduced asking price of $2,495,000CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet and to view listing photos. Better yet, please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule a private showing of this singular sensation.  I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

2013 Preservation Awards - Historic Florida Keys Foundation

I had the opportunity to attend the 2013 Historic Florida Keys Foundation Preservation Awards ceremony last Friday evening which was held at the Little White House in Key West.  Two buyers that I sold homes to received awards this year, and I felt honored to attend the event.

Five homes received a Certificate of Excellence including 909 Pohalski Lane shown below. This former house was significantly damaged by fire in 2011. The owner engaged noted local architect Tom Pope who designed a virtually new structure that incorporated the shell of the front part of the historic house which was totally rebuilt and expanded with a new two story addition at the rear. The original cigar maker cottage was part of the Pohalski Village of surrounding small homes. Congratulations to owner Mark Childress, Architect Tom Pope, and builder Key King Construction for a job very well done. What could have become rubble and might have been replaced with something mediocre has become little jewel for others to emulate.  I have seen a lot of houses that have burned in my time on this island. Nobody did a better job of saving a house damaged by fire than Messrs. Childress and Pope.

I accompanied Christopher Mario and his daughter to the ceremonies.  I sold 618 Grinnell Street to him a couple of years ago. I had written about the property at least once in my blog before he purchased the property. The big old house had been virtually untouched in years. Oh, it had been lived in, but it had not been remodeled in any significant way except that some former owner had taken out an interior wall on the ground floor which cause the structure to bend a bit and cause the second floor to be just a bit out of whack.  Chris engaged The Lineberry Architectural Group (which had designed another home for home for him) to design the restoration of his Key West residence.

The historic eyebrow house was jacked up and had a new pier foundation built. The rear "addition" to the house was totally rebuilt. Old partition walls were eliminated, the ceiling vaulted, and the sides opened with new windows or French doors. Decks were rebuilt, a bicycle garage was created, and a new pool was added which was complemented with a new garden comprised of native shrubs and trees. Chris Mario received a Ceramic Star for rehabilitation and restoration of the beautiful home at 618 Grinnell Street.
618 Grinnell St built circa 1889 as it appeared in 1965
new piers being built
nearing completion
nearly done
618 Grinnell Street - Cermaic Star Winner 2013
Also present on Friday night was Mr. Tom Hambright the County Historian for the Monroe County Library. If you are ever fortunate enough to buy an old home in Key West and want to learn more about the history of your property, Tom Hambright is the man you must see.  For his years of service to the citizens of Key West, Mr. Hambright deservedly received  the 2013 community Service Award. 


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.