Sunday, July 03, 2005

This Week on the Island 07/03/2005

'This week on the Island' is written by Doug Bennett and is an update to friends about happenings in Key West last week. Everything is true except for those parts that are lies.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Happy 4th of July.

Saturday was our (Doug's & Jo's) 34th anniversary.

The Weather: Sunny and bright.

I have been asked to discuss 'changes' in Key West. (I have been here about 5 years)

In Thursday paper 'Mangia Mangie' on Southard Street has been sold.

Duval Street: The Quay is now an Eckerd's. Planet Hollywood is now Ripley's Believe it or not. Sloppy Joe's lost it's fight to allow smoking, Papa's will be Cheezeburgers. The old Hooter's is now Fogerty's. We have a Wendy's. Starbucks is now in the lobby of the la Concha Hotel. The old Ripley's is now Walgreen's. That is just the first 5 blocks. The city parking garage on Simonton has been leveled.

The Bight Area: Jabours camp ground has been sold (1.5 acres @ $18 mil) and will be Watermark Condos (25 condos at $1.5 mil each). The Key West Steam Plant is being torn down and will be condos. The parking lot on the corner of Caroline and Grinnell is now Monty's.The old Plantains restaurant is a parking lot. The city is still thinking about selling the Key West Bight. Schooner Wharf is still working on their contract with the city. The VFW is for sale. The ferry terminal is up and operational. PePe's is still in operation but is up for sale ($4.7 Mil). The old plant store on James Street (next to Finnegan's Wake) is now an empty lot. Let's not forget the 6 condos built in the parking lot in front of my house.

Front Street area: The old Aloe Factory is now a Pirate Museum. The old American Bar is gone and something is being built there (corner of Front and Simonton.) The Pier House Bistro restaurant across from Two Friends and next to Burger King is being gutted they are building a bar/restaurant called Island Dog. The dredging of the Cruise ship channel seems to be nearly complete. The owners of Christmas Tree Island (next to SunSet Key) has ordered everyone off the island and boats cannot anchor on its coastline (talk is that it has been sold to the Hilton and will be another SunSet Key).

Southernmost Point Area: A beautification project made this point a little nicer place. The Butterfly Museum is a real positive. Atlantic Shores will be replaced with condos. The Santa Maria is already gutted and being made into condos.

Coming onto the island and going right (US#1): The Holiday Inn is already gutted and will be condos. Home Land Security has bulldozed the buildings near N. Roosevelt and Palm and is constructing a large complex. The VFW is thinking of purchasing the old Monty's on N Roosevelt. The old fairgrounds is gone and is now low income apartments (about $1,000 a month). Scotty's was leveled and is now Home Depot.

On Stock Island the old dog race track is now condos. The old drive in movie will soon be condos and one of the old marina's is being closed to build condos.

Coming on the island and going left (A1A): Houseboat Row is no longer in existence, they have all been moved to Garrison Bight. Across from where Houseboat Row used to be is a new gigantic apartment complex. The airport has been improved. The seawall and sidewalk along Smathers Beach has been greatly improved. There are still discussions about the Bridal Path and the RV's/campers/homeless and the dumping of sewage in the salt ponds.

Speaking of homeless: the old Conch's say we need a few hurricanes. That always gets the homeless to leave the island. If you are homeless this is a great place to live. Nice weather, places to get free food, places to get showers, places to sleep, places to get clean clothing. BUT if the homeless get all cleaned up, the tourist won't give them money for alcohol, drugs and cigarettes.

All over the island: Homes are being purchased as investment property. They are being gutted and refurbished (you cannot bulldoze and old house, you must rebuild). We used to have families and neighborhoods we now have empty refurbished rental houses or houses for sell. Bahama Village is now more white than Bahamian. Many people are having to sell because they cannot afford to live here anymore. Key West at less than 26,000 residents has a smaller population than it has had for over 100 years.

'They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.'

Key West, You have got to love it
'Meet me at the end of the road' - Conky Tonkin'- Jimmy Buffett
Doug Bennett