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Monday, June 30, 2014

1423 Catherine Street - Key West

The listing Realtor describes 1423 Catherine Street as "Wonderful home in Old Town, close to Bayview Park. This home has been recently painted, has newer shutters, great front porch, and more. There are wood floors throughout, and wide plank flooring in the bathroom. There is a private fenced back yard with a deck,and there appears to be a cistern under the decking that could possibly be converted to a small plunge pool. There is parking for 2 cars tandem, and a large attic for storage."
I went to my old shoebox and found a photo taken in 1965 which shows 1423 Catherine Street much differently than it appears today. Back then the front porch was semi-enclosed with screen. Neither the Royal Poinciana nor the giant Seagrape trees had been planted. Today the porch is open to the street but the house is mostly hidden by trees on either side of the house.   I checked the Historic Sanborn Map for 1912 and found what I believe to be 1423 Catherine Street which was then identified as "B" sitting on the lot adjacent to "A".  The lot back then included both A and B houses and a couple of out buildings. The lot adjacent to the east was vacant but an adjoining house on Pearl was in existence. That small lot was developed when the two story building was constructed. That building was built very close to the property line. The rear building do not exist today and the lot is nowhere near the size it was in 1912. My guess is the rear lot was sold to the property owner on Eliza Street which has a very large house and lot.
The house at 1423 Catherine Street is a  bungalow style home devoid of any evident Dade County Pine walls. Dade Pine might be under the existing interior walls, but you can't see it if it does exist. Instead when you enter the front door you see two living areas partially separated by what I would describe as an Arts and Crafts style room divider. There are two bedrooms on the right, kitchen at the rear, and the one and only bathroom at the far end of the living room. I have shown this home a few times over the years and each potential buyer has found the floor plan a bit challenging.  If you are a buyer who is looking for a bit of a project, this home might work just right for you because the house itself appears to be in very good shape.  Instead of making big repairs, a new homeowner will likely re purpose some existing spaces and relocate both the kitchen and bath. And a new homeowner may try to install a pool at the rear.

 The above photos show the layout as it currently exists. I think a new owner might remove the dated Arts and Crafts room divider and open the space to more contemporary use. The front bedroom is quite large, but it has no closet. There was a passage between the front and second bedroom that is now covered by a mirror. I'd remove the mirror and use the passage to enter the second bedroom which I would shrink in size and make into a shared bath between the two bedrooms. I would take the dining area from the kitchen and convert that space into the new master bedroom. Part of the existing second bedroom would be converted into closets for the front and rear bedrooms. Essentially, there would be a Jack and Jill bath between the two bedrooms.  Finally I would reconfigure the existing bath and some portion of the former kitchen and make those spaces into the new kitchen.  There is plenty of room on the driveway side to do a small bump out to enlarge either the living room or new kitchen.  I do not foresee any reason HARC would have any difficulty in allowing a new homeowner to make the changes I envision.

The backyard has a lot of tree growth that needs trimmed back.  I think there may be enough space for a small pool. The listing agent suggests using the cistern to create a plunge pool. I might try to get a variance which might conceivably allow a new owner to reduce the setbacks a bit.  The trees at the front have overtaken the lot. I would ask the Tree Commission for permission to remove both the Seagrape and Royal Poinciana trees. Otherwise, the front porch provides a great place for people watching. The existing driveway provides two off street parking spaces.  
Nothing actually needs to be done to this home. It is in move-in condition. My suggestions are just that - suggestions. CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet and listing photos. This house is offered at $475,000.

This property is located a short walk from Bayview Park, the main city park in Key West. The park has and old fashioned bandstand, public tennis courts, a ball field, and lots of space for civic events throughout the year.
 Please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule a private showing of this home.  I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.


Friday, June 27, 2014

311 Elizabeth Street - Key West - Transient Licensed Grand Conch House

 311 Elizabeth Street, Key West is back on the market. This historic old Grand Conch home is located at the foot of the Historic Key West Seaport and just two blocks from Duval Street. It has a very valuable Transient Rental License, a great pool, and off street parking.  The listing Realtor describes this property as:
"This is a grand historic home with double porches on a great block of Elizabeth Street in the heart of old town. The property has a spacious owner's apartment plus two transient guest house units, one in a separate poolside cottage. The classic architecture features Dade County pine, high ceilings and expansive rooms. The large owner's apartment is in the main house. The pool is surrounded by lush tropical foliage and decking. The entire property is fenced for privacy. The property includes a coveted off street parking space. The A+ location is close to the Land's End area shopping & marinas and Duval Street. Some TLC will make this jewel shine!"
I dug down into the old shoebox and found the black and white photo two above that was taken nearly fifty years ago.   The photo immediately above is very recent. Shutters, flags, and tropical vegetation give the old girl a bit more flair compared to the spartan 1965 photo.  I checked the Sanborn Fire Maps and  found that 311 Elizabeth Street first noted on the 1899 map.  When I recently stepped inside the house to take photos, I could tell this was indeed an old house. Although most of the downstairs was updated in the past twenty years, the dark Dade County Pine walls in the main floor living room and ceilings were a dead giveaway that this was a very old house indeed.
The property has three living spaces that are recognized by the City of Key West. They include (1) the main floor owners' unit, (2) second floor apartment with associated guest house licensed room, and (3) a guest cottage also with a guest house licensed room. There is an attached guest suite extension from the main floor owners unit that includes a living room, Pullman kitchen, bath, and bedroom. (That is actually four living spaces if you do the math!)
The detached guest cottage is as large as many of the smaller homes and condos in the Old Town area.  The great room has a tall vaulted ceiling with skylight and a bright and cheery kitchen. A steep stairway leads to a large second level sleeping loft which is large enough to accommodate two queen size beds.
The guest suite attached to the rear of the owners' main level living area is quite large. It includes a Pullman kitchen (photo two above), a living room, bath, and good sized bedroom. The long rectangular pool is on the south side of the property and has good morning and afternoon sun. The deck envelops the pool and then wraps the ground level addition to the rear of the main house where there is a more intimate private area.
I think this property could make a great renovation property for a buyer who wants a large Key West home with good income ppotential.  This is a great location near the Seaport and Duval Street attractions.

CLICK HERE to view more photos I took of this property.

311 Elizabeth Street is offered at $1,695,000. It has a total of seven bedrooms, four baths, four kitchens that occupy 3124 square feet of space on the 5269 square foot lotCLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet.  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.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

5030 5th Avenue #20 - Key West, Florida

If you are like me you probably watch too many episodes of HGTV's House Hunters. You likely appreciate that each potential buyer has a unique vision of that dream home and where it is located. Some buyers require a location near a city center or public transportation. Others may seek a private or isolated location. Some may seek a home with quick water access or a myriad of other requirements. The point is that every person has a different ideal of a dream home.

Late yesterday afternoon I got to take a look at the new (unfinished) Islander Village located on Stock Island, Florida. This will be a small community of just 22 newly built homes all of which have water views, good sized yards large enough for the construction of a pool, and which have the right to build a wood pier. All homes are three bedroom and two baths, 1500 sq ft of living space that sit on 5,000 sq ft lots. The homes are currently offered between $439,900 to $525,000.  I saw the model home and took some photos shown below. .
The photo at the top of today's blog was taken off the rear deck of 5030 5th Avenue #20. The view looks out to water.  The new homes will line the rim of an arc that defines this particular piece of land.  I dug down into the old shoebox and found three aerial photos taken years ago when this same piece of property was the old Islander Drive-In.  These photos show the unique arc of this piece of ground where all sides provide open water views. The upper photo shows Cow Key Channel that separates Stock Island from Key West. The broad street on Key West is Flagler Avenue. The group of large buildings was the former Navy Hospital.  Compare the upper and middle photos where you will see  a group of mobile homes were added to the adjacent lower site which appears to have been enlarged. I'll betcha that the people who live here are living their dream.
When I first moved to Key West I made several trips to the old Cuban Dump on Stock Island. Stock Island also was where I took my dog to see the Veterinarian. The Stock Island of 2014 looks so much different now than it did in 1993.  Stock Island had been used as a dumping ground for trash and old cars.  Obviously the old drive-in is gone. The old race track and bowling alley are gone as well. So are the junk cars and midnight dump sites. Many of the old mobile home parks have been replaced by new modular homes.  What has not changed are the large number of home sites with either direct water views or water access.  Part of the allure of the allure of the new Islander Village homes is the water views.
The listing agent provides more information:
"Brand new gated community at the location of the former Islander drive-in movie theater. Featuring 22 homes with open water views of Key West, Cow Key Channel, and the Atlantic Ocean. Two floor plans to choose from, each with 1,500 sq. ft of living space and 10ft wide decks for capturing sunsets and sea breezes. Homes feature travertine tile flooring throughout, solid wood cabinetry, granite countertops, hardiboard siding, walk-in closet, metal roofs, stainless appliances, double garage with hurricane rated doors, impact glass windows and more. Comes with permits for a private fishing pier and room for a pool. Built to the latest codes which withstand 180mph winds and elevated 12ft, homes will offer affordable insurances and utilities."
The listing agent told me six of the twenty-two homes have been sold most of which are the higher priced homes and most of those are on the western end of the development - the location which looks out to Cow Key Channel. Each lot is large enough for an owner to add a private pool and / or wood pier. Each of these would cost about $30,000 to add. All lots will be fenced.  No matter the price paid, these homes have Hardiboard siding an impact wind impact windows rated to 180 miles per hour. The homes are elevated 12 feet. That means these homes will be less costly to maintain and less expensive to insure. The listing agent advises "Buyer must be a Monroe County resident or plan to be a Monroe County resident once they purchase the property. No income restriction and property may be rented long term." Finally, these homes qualify for $10,000 Monroe County bond money which will be a second mortgage on the property for the owner's term of home ownership at which time the principal mortgage balance must be repaid. (This is a non-interest bearing mortgage during the term of ownership.)

CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet and to view lots of quality listing photos of this property. Then please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, to arrange a private showing of 5030 5th Avenue #20 or any of the other homes in this new development. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. Let me help you find your dream home - maybe it will be on Stock Island with a waterfront view.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

1522 Patricia Street - Key West

Just listed by Preferred Properties Key West, that's where I work but this is not my listing, 1522 Patricia Street. This place is new and expanded renovation and ready for the new owner to move and start to live the good life.  Everything has been done to make this new home user friendly, easy to maintain, and inexpensive to insure. 
The listing Realtor describes this home this way:
"Built to last, this spacious split-level home is situated on a sunny corner lot in the neighborhood that is Key West's best kept secret. The lower level has three guest bedrooms with shared bath and a spacious master suite with ample closet space and a private entrance via the large covered lanai. The upper level consists of a open great room with 9 foot ceilings, multiple windows and French doors opening out to the swimming pool and tropical gardens. A chef's kitchen features Decora cabinets, stainless steel appliances and Corian counter tops. Features such as storm-rated windows and doors, Colombian barrel-tile roof rated for 200 MPH, and color-tinted stucco, result in low insurance and maintenance costs. Come see today what's going on!"
Locals may recognize the area as being within easy walking distance to Higg's Beach or Smather's Beach.  Most of the homes in this area have been updated. This is an area where most homes are owner occupied as opposed to parts of Casa Marina, the Meadows, and Old Town where many of the houses are second homes, some of which are used as vacation rentals.
As I walked inside the foyer my eyes were drawn upward to the great room that was filled with late morning sunshine. I could not help but notice the elegant travertine marble floors and baseboards (which are carried throughout the house). When I reached the top stair my eyes were then drawn through the impact glass doors and out to the sunny pool. Pools and outdoor living spaces are among the prime reason people move to Key West and this home has a lovely pool and outdoor entertaining area. The rest of the yard is very nicely landscaped. 
The master bedroom with en-suite bath and large walk-in closet is located on the lower level along with three other bedrooms. 
CLICK HERE to view more photos I took of this lovely 1950 sq ft four bedroom, two and one-half home that is offered for sale at $1,395,000. And please CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet and listing photos. After you have checked out the data and the photos please call me to checkout the house.  It is vacant and easy to show. Call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. Let me help you find your home in 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.