Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Noah Lane

It's not yet snowbird season in Key West, so Truman Annex isn't as busy as it will be in a few weeks. It was the work of a moment to stop in Noah Lane to admire the shadows of the afternoon sun on all the white woodwork and green palms. Truman Annex was built on the site of the Naval base more or less and features homes built in the "Key West style" but not in the Key West manner. That is to say large homes with yards, perhaps not as large and somewhere not too far away to park one's splendid car more or less under cover.Noah Lane lies closest to Truman Waterfront and this little sign hits you in the eye as you ride toward Fort Zachary:Looking past the sign one can see the old Navy Guard hut on the Truman waterfront,waiting to get demolished when the city implements it's brave new waterfront plan. Whenever that will be approved.Noah Lane is pretty much representative of Truman Annex, a gated community that has made headlines over the years, getting into more than it's fair share of disputes with the city commission. The last one involved the proposal to stick a gate across Southard Street which would be closed at ten at night. The city commission caved immediately and built an alternative entrance to the waterfront via Petronia Street, but the Navy said the gate was a bad idea because they want 24 hour access to their base around the corner and the Truman Annex Master Property Owners Association in turn dropped their pants with utmost respect and the gate has not yet materialized.The architecture inside the Annex is pretty much uniform, roofs, gables and widows walks:You'd think that this profusion of greenery and neat picket fences would induce utmost serenity in a town not celebrated for that quality. When I was there, a nasty yappy little dog was venting endlessly, perhaps it didn't much like Bonnevilles, even silent parked ones, and that didn't improve the ambiance for me.I was quite surprised to find evidence of raccoons or some other thing littering the sidewalk:Truman Annex's other big dispute with the City was over short term rentals. One has to have a license to rent a dwelling in Key West for any period less than 28 days at a time. The licenses had been rather hard to get but Truman Annex ignored the law until the City decided to crack down and lost the case. So, for people who bought homes in the Annex planning to rent them to make up the mortgage it's a good thing, for people looking for a quiet retreat behind the secure gates, it's not so good.I never thought about it too much until a friend of mine years ago told me of his experiences living in a condo which attracted a great many short term renters. I don't think I would much like living next to party central even if I could afford an erection like this magnificence:The story behind the construction of the Annex is quite surprising, and it went something like this. A young would-be developer who first came to Key West as a wandering lost soul conceived the notion that he would buy up the Navy property put up for sale. He got it for seventeen million, they say and then went bust. But on his second go round he got it sorted out, built it, sold it and went on to develop other properties in the "Key West style." Notably the Golf Course and Tranquility Bay in Marathon. I think the Annex looks much better for the presence of a Bonneville:
I was interested to note the outdoor ceilings were painted in the traditional Key West shade of blue, said to alienate insects, or more esoterically, evil spirits. I'm not much of an evil spirits kind of man, but I like the shade of blue. I have threatened to have my Nissan repainted this color when my wife isn't looking:
And here is an actual picture of me riding in a circle on Noah Lane:I told you it looked better for the presence of a Bonneville.