A hot summer afternoon in April in New Town. I was much cheered by a call from a friend in Santa Cruz California a couple of days ago. The weather report? 45 degrees, rain, "it looks like winter." Cheyenne and I were huddling under the inadequate cover of a tree before venturing out under the sun on Eagle Avenue.The house is shut up, the car is for sale. Hmm, a possible replacement for my oil burning kennel.An occupied house, a car not for sale.New town used to be open fields and there was a dairy around here in the days before Key West spread past Division Street, now known as Truman Avenue. Division used to divide the inhabited part of the island from the open space. Open, no longer. For Conchs of the day New Town development represented an opportunity to sell their tumbledown homes for ridiculous sums and build proper American homes on decent sized lots in what used to be fields.Off sets are are a good deal wider than in Old Town.It's starting to get hot if you happen to wear a fur coat out in public. But not so hot that one loses all interest in the outside world.A delightful tree house in a very large ficus (baobab). (see comment below...)Classic ranchette style, car port, open landscape, lots of off street parking, no tourists. People who visit and inhabit only Duval Street have no idea how non touristy the rest of the island is.The real estate market in the Lower Keys is sending mixed signals. Realtors tell us the market is regaining strength -come on down!- but foreclosures seem to be increasing and as they come on the market prices are weak. An acquaintance was recently advised the real estate office where she works is cutting her pay by one third (!) and her share of recent sales commissions have not yet (!) been paid. Her response was to cut her own hours by two per day so she saves herself the cost of daycare. My wife was rather freaked out by that piece of news.Dropping house prices enable sales but they don't feed the machinery of the local economy like the recently inflated prices used to.
Around here a large swath of lawn is nothing to be amazed about in New Town. Space like this in Old Town makes the owner a millionaire, even today. I like wide streets, off street parking and large offsets. If I had to live in the city I'd be looking around here, far from the drunken crowds.Happily I'm not yet forced to give up my mortgage. I'm sure Wells Fargo is delighted, I fed their last quarter's absurd profits so it's more bonuses for everyone at the bank. Lucky them.