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Florida Keys News
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Six new homes planned
Duval St. apartments in the works

The owner of a retail building on the city's most famous street wants to build six new apartments on the property, including three affordable housing units, according to plans filed recently at City Hall.

Joseph Cohen, of Miami, has drawn up plans to convert 1,000 square feet of commercial space on the second floor of 725 Duval St. into three one-bedroom, one-bath apartments and to build a one-story building with three 2-bedroom, 1 bath market rate apartments.

The 1-bedroom apartments in the existing building would be the affordable ones while the new building would hold market-rate rentals above gated parking.

"It's an opportunity where downtown properties have the space to add residential units," said Owen Trepanier, a private planner working for Cohen on the project. "Old Town's so tight. Even affordable rents in Key West are not cheap."

The affordable label in this case means that income levels will determine who can rent the units.

"You can't retire and come down here and get an affordable housing unit," Trepanier said.

The building at 725 Duval St. was built in 1991 and comprises 7,469 square feet. Plans for the six apartments includes adding more than 3,300 square feet for residential units and all required parking beneath the new structure.

A driveway is proposed on Petronia Street.

The approval process on the major development plan has only just started, as the city's Development Review Committee received the application last week.

Cohen must go before the planning board, the tree commission, the Historic Architectural Review Commission and the city commission, which has the final say.

Cohen's schedule is to win City Commission approval by July 15.

Once construction begins, the work won't take longer than one year, the application says.

The property at 725 Duval St. sold for $3 million in 2012, down from a $3.5 million sale in 2004, according to Monroe County Property Appraiser records.

gfilosa@keysnews.com

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