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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

630 Elizabeth Street - The House at the Top of Solares Hill - Key West

Frequent readers will recall my former listing at 630 Elizabeth Street (above). The house sits at the very top of Solares Hill - the highest point on the Island of Key West. Passers-by could not help notice how badly she looked. The big old girl was in the process of getting a major face lift as well as new dentures, a tummy tuck, hip replacement, intestinal bypass, and breast augmentation. I kid you not (well just a little). I represented the former owner who bought this big old girl when it was bank owned. That owner decided to sell rather than renovate. The new (current) owner started a major renovation and now that owner has put the property back on the market at the asking price of $650,000 or $328 per sq ft which makes it the least expensive property for sale in Old Town on a per square foot basis. 
630 Elizabeth Street built circa 1887, photographed in 1965

This big old building was traditionally a two unit. In the very old days the downstairs unit was a neighborhood store. Presumably the owner lived on the second floor. Judging from the interiors when I had this property listed for sale, I would guess the interiors were updated in the 1970s.  The front porch on the second level was unsafe and it was removed.  The main level had some noticeable foundation issues and it was the probably the cost of fixing the foundation more than any other issue that deterred most of the potential buyers who looked and lusted after this old house.

The listing Realtor describes the property today as:
"Historical renovation project 1.5 blocks from Duval street, built in 1887 located at the highest point in Key West on the top of Solares Hill. The seller began the renovations on a legal duplex and has plans already in place which would convey with the sale. The property also has plans to be turned back into a single family home. The seller has lifted the property up and renovated the footers/subfloor, leveled the home and placed it back down. Inside is now stripped down to just the shell so it is prepared for the floor plan of your choice.2nd floor views looking down Solares Hill are extraordinary. Plans Provide for 2300 sq ft of Living Space upon Completion of Remodel plus Porches&Siding (Exc20%of Existing)."
The photos immediately below show an example of balloon framing where the exterior. Them the second floor is then added. And finally interior framing and part ions are added at the end.  In this instance, the second floor balcony will get replaced and new and the old columns either replaced or repaired.
Early photo showing balloon framing
Something akin to intestinal bypass
I hosted many open houses when I listed this property. Most were lookers - not real buyers. But those that looked and have nerve enough to peer out through the second floor (Dutch door) got to see the views that only 630 Elizabeth Street can offer of Old Town.  Take a peek.
I dug through my old shoebox and gathered lots of photos of 630 Elizabeth Street which you can see if you CLICK HERE. Those photos will give a potential buyer the opportunity to compare the house as it existed with the way it looks today.  The property today is vastly improved from the way it was when it was purchased. The hard work has been done. Plans exist and are in place to complete the renovation. But a new owner could change things - even at this late date. The fun part awaits a new owner.
CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet and to view listing photos. This property is listed by Scott Forman who kindly gave me permission to write about it in my blog.  If you are interested in seeing this property please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

1105 Olivia Street Key West - Price Reduction

The asking price on the cute little one bedroom single family home at 1105 Olivia Street in Old Town Key West was just reduced from $439,000 to $395,000. I did a quick check of our mls and learned that 1105 Olivia Street is the second least expensive home in Old Town. CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet and to see listing photos.

This property is located a little over one-half block east of the Key West cemetery and one block north of Truman Avenue in the southeast quadrant of Old Town.  I dug deep into the proverbial old shoebox and found the photo above which was taken back in 1965 when 1105 Olivia Street was FERNANDEZ CLEANERS.  If you look just beyond the square facade you see the outline of the simple cigar maker cottage that pre-dates the commercial use.  I then went to the Sanborn Map of 1889 and found the house abutting the city sidewalk. That review satisfied me to that this old house was built before 1889.
The house itself has been updated over the years, but I suspect that a new owner may do a new renovation of this old house. I am mindful that the 623 sq ft home has only one bedroom, but it does have a great Old Town location and it has the potential to convert an existing cistern into a dip pool. That, Dear Readers, makes this new listing worthy of your consideration.

The listing Realtor describes this property this way:
"Old Town sleeper. Behind the gated entrance is a one bedroom one bath cottage with a private rear courtyard. High ceilings in the living/dining room along with a wall of windows provides light and tropical ambiance. There is an eat-in kitchen, renovated bath and good-size bedroom. A little renovation will produce an Old Town Jewel!"
Living room looks out to what might be the pool area
Update this kitchen
Convert the concrete cistern into a dip pool
The 1889 Sanborn Map shows the house located right on the City property line with a very large rear yard. The current Property Appraiser map shows the lot at 20' x 55'. The house itself is 40 feet in length which leaves 15 feet for the creation of a small pool. A new owner would probably need to convert the old cistern into a dip pool as building code would limit new construction. I do believe code would permit the conversion but a new buyer would need to verify this before relying on what I "believe" to be permissible.
Most of the cottages and larger homes in the immediate neighborhood have been updated. Some of the properties have small pools but most do not have off street parking. You must remember that this area (once referred to as Pohalski Village) was mostly cigar maker cottages on situated on small lots. That has not changed in the decades since the houses were built. Back in the old days the residents walked to work and to neighborhood stores.

In today's more modern world off street parking is very limited in this area. Most owners park their cars on the street.  Most of the residences in this area are single family homes. There is commercial activity up on Truman Avenue one block to the south.  There is little to no "spill over" of parking from those businesses into this neighborhood.

This is the area where you will find most of the local gyms and yoga salons. And Duval Street is only a five to seven minute walk.  The Historic Key West Seaport is also located within a short walk to the north. I like to point out that you don't have to have a pool in your backyard to enjoy a pool.  Dante's is located at the Seaport. Locals go there on a regular basis to lounge by the pool. They usually buy some burgers and booze, but that is less expensive than paying the cost of operating a pool everyday of the year and paying for pool maintenance. 
CLICK HERE to view more photos that I took of the property. If you would like to see 1105 Olivia Street or any other listing in Key West please contact me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule a showing. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc.

Monday, July 29, 2013

606 Truman Avenue #1 - Key West Florida

Preferred Properties Key West (that's where I work but this is not my listing) just listed a two story two bedroom two bath Windward Park priced at just $729,000606 Truman Avenue #1 has 1260 sq ft of living space divided between the two floors.

The listing Realtor describes Unit #1 this way:
"Delightful two bedroom two bath townhouse in a well-sought out Old Town compound, Windward Park. Unit 1 is tucked away in the front corner of the complex, therefore somewhat removed and most private. Enter into a large great room with two-story cat walk. Great for displaying treasured art. The new kitchen features high-end, custom cabinetry with unique counter tops and new appliances. The downstairs bedroom with adjoining bath has French doors leading out to a very secluded deck with beautiful tropical plantings and a hot tub. The upstairs features the master bedroom with en suite bath, as well as a second-floor porch that offers private, treetop views of the pool (heated in Winter) and well-manicured tropical gardens of the complex."

The main living area with the second floor "catwalk" is featured in a couple of other units at Windward Park but not all. The catwalk certainly adds dramatic flair to the living space.  Otherwise, the main floor is laid out traditionally with the living room and dining area at front followed by a guest bedroom at the rear. There is a main floor bathroom with access off either the living area or from the bedroom. French doors open from the living space out to a spacious deck which includes a private hot tub. (Not all units have this feature.)
If you have looked at houses in Key West before you have probably found that most bedrooms are dark and dinky. Not so here. The master bedroom is extra large.  If you prefer sleeping in a king size bed, you will have room to spare in this big boy bedroom that has windows that face the east, south, and west (although the light here is filtered by the second floor covered porch.)   The closet is equally extra large. The en-suite bath is located at the rear and has a window that looks back to St. Mary's of the Sea Basilica. The second floor porch provides an enviable view of the pool that is shared with only 12 other units.  Compare that to some similarly priced units in Truman Annex where the pools are shared by lots and lots of tourists.  I am not being negative on Truman Annex, but you will have to pay more money to have fewer potential people sharing your pool if you live there. CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet and to view all listing photos.

Readers not totally familiar with the location may be aided by who the nearby neighbors are including the aforementioned St. Mary's of the Sea Basilica (Truman at Windsor Lane), Better Than Sex (desert restaurant at Truman and Simonton), Moped Hospital (also at Truman and Simonton),  and Denny's (located one block away at the corner of Truman at Duval Street).  Many of the gyms and yoga studios are located nearby as well. I mention the neighbors because many popular tourist attractions which are within easy walking distance.  Unit #1 is currently used as a private residence but a new owner could easily rent the unit as a Key West monthly vacation rental.
If you would like to see this unit or any other  property in Key West, please call 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 Key West.  Let me help you find your place in Paradise.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

112 Hutchinson Lane - Key West

112 Hutchinson Lane in the Bahama Village area of Key West first appeared in my blog soon after it was listed in late July. It is time for a second visit.. As is my habit, I checked the old Sanborn Fire Maps of Key West to see if I could determine the approximate date this old house was built.  Frequent readers know that our county property records were destroyed in the great fire of 1886. Workers from the WPA during the Depression reconstructed property records and unfortunately erroneous "construction" dates..  In the case of 112 Hutchinson Lane I found what I think is the house in the 1892 Sanborn Map.  The problem is the houses are clearly marked in the correct area on the map but the map makes no reference to the then unnamed "lane".  No matter, we can tell by looking at the black and white photo below which was taken in 1965 that the house was ancient then. Compare the way it looked then to the way it looks today. I wish people aged as gracefully.  Really, I do.
According to the property records the house is 720 sq ft and sits on a 43.5' x 66' (2872 sq ft) lot midway down one of the slowest lanes in Key West. Mind you, this lane is only one block long and dead-ends at the end where a small compound of four homes share a pool.  More than half of the homes on this little lane have been updated.
This house has one of the wider lots which would probably allow for the reduction of the current two car off street parking spots into just one. That would then allow for the addition of a new swimming pool running from the  mid side yard rear toward the rear fence. There is a backyard, but the set backs would only permit a dip pool if the pool were built at the rear.
The house itself is a typical cigar maker cottage with the door on the left. A hallway runs from front to rear along the south wall.  The front room is the living room which is followed by two  bedrooms. The kitchen and bath are at the rear.  The kitchen is quite small. Entry to the bath is off the kitchen. The bath was updated in 2012 and 2013. The roof was replaced in 1996 but looks new.  The exterior siding is board and batten and looks good condition.  I was surprised by how nicely maintained this house looks.
A cottage across the lane appears to have been the victim of a fire. It is in the early stages of a redo. I will be the fire damage house ends up looking wonderful after it is redone.  None of the houses on this block are rundown. 
 Hutchinson Lane is located three blocks west of Duval Street. Truman Avenue is a one way street heading west toward the new Truman Waterfront development.  Olivia Street is a one way street heading east from the waterfront passed Duval and through Old Town. The neighborhood is mostly residential with the exception of several restaurants near the corner of Petronia and Thomas Street. Blue Heaven is probably the most famous restaurant there.  The Ft Zach Taylor State Park and Beach are within walking distance. When the new Truman waterfront is opened access to the water will be maybe five minutes at most. 
 CLICK HERE  to viewt he Key West mls datasheet on 112 Hutchinson Lane which is offered at $415,000 or $591 per sq ft. I took more exterior photos of the house and the block which you can see if  you CLICK HERE. Better than looking at photos, please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule a showing of this little cigar maker cottage. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West


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.