The 13 townhomes that were built in 2008 originally were listed for $1.6 million to more than $4 million, Only two were under contract when the market crashed.
“We’re probably slightly at a buyer’s market now, but we think that will improve,” Anderson said. “Pretty soon, we think it will be back to a seller’s market … We’ve had a lot of interest. People have left their names.”
In Islamorada, a project called Tarpon Point with 12 pastel colored townhomes along the Atlantic Ocean is still a construction site after five years. But Randy Seldon, the listing agent with Century 21 Schwartz Realty, said it’s one of the only big projects in the Upper Keys where the original owners didn’t go under during the economic crash.
“Five brothers own it, and they never tanked,” he said of the Rosseau brothers. “There never has been a day the job was shut down since it’s started. They’re just building it slowly.”
The four-bedroom, four-bath homes are listed from $2.3 million to $2.9 million. So far only two have pending sales, and they are to two of the owners. Seldon said he does not know when construction will be done.
Managing partner David Rosseau did not return a call.
On Stock Island, near Key West, developers spent $103 million in 2007 to buy 50 acres of land and bay bottom around Safe Harbor, a deepwater port. The plans were to build a world-class marina with 260 slips and a 300-room hotel. There would be a ferry terminal, too, if Cuba opened up.
But New Stock Island Properties couldn’t get permitting and also went under. That property now is under contract and should close in June, said Schmitt, who is brokering the deal. He said he can’t give any details at this time about the deal or what is planned for the property.
In Islamorada, Lee was happy to show the construction that was going on at the former Tavernier Dive Shop and Plantation Key Fisheries. The plan is much more modest than that of the previous owners, Cay Clubs Resorts and Marinas.
Cay Club’s executives came into the Keys as high rollers, sponsoring a 2005 Celebration of the Sea concert in Key Largo that featured Chuck Berry and Steven Tyler.
The company proved to be nothing more than a Ponzi scheme, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
There are no swanky condos in the plans. Lee is working with the existing zoning and said the buildings will remain commercial, for a dive shop, fish house, restaurant, coffee shop and six retail outlets that are all water related.
The crash also has helped save some affordable lodging in the Keys for those who love the outdoors. Fiesta Key RV Resort in the Middle Keys was packed Easter weekend with families from Miami and around the country.
“We’re so happy there’s still places you can come to the Keys and not have to spend $300 or $400 a night,” said Jane Derenthal, who was renting a $100-a-night cabin. “Look how gorgeous it is here, and it’s pet friendly.”
She was walking her dog Pompei along the seawall, while Noah Ditchie of Michigan was fishing for tarpon and Brynn Schiavi, 8, was showing Whitney Carlin, 3, the lizard she had caught.
“She’s my animal lover,” Kelly Mychalishyn of Rochester, N.Y., said of her daughter, Brynn.
Their family vacation has included jaunts to the Turtle Hospital and Bahia Honda State Park.
Cortex Resort Living had bought the campground for $55 million with plans to turn the 324 campsites into a 230-townhome complex called Seaglass, with a shipwreck salvagers theme.
But the developers also never got this project off the ground, becoming embroiled in a $74 million foreclosure suit. In the meantime, the campground remained open.
In 2010, the property’s deed was turned over in lieu of foreclosure. Now, New York-based Morgan RV Resorts runs the place. They have 21 campgrounds in 11 states with a motto: “Where luxury meets nature.”
Another bayside property in the Keys also was slated to become townhomes, but the new owners have turned the 12 acres into Point of View Key Largo RV Resort, albeit for big rigs of 30 to 75 feet. No tents or pop-ups are allowed.
“They were checking around to see what was needed and everybody pretty unanimously said RV park,” said Laurie Comeau, manager of the park that just opened March 1.
Comeau had managed nearby American Outdoors campground for 16 years, until the developers closed it for good. The entrance now is blocked with a chain fence, and the new owners are planning a Marriott hotel.
Harold Wheeler, executive director of the Monroe County Tourist Development Council, said that while it’s “too bad” the Keys went through the recession, he’s happy the Keys were able to maintain some of the private RV resorts and campgrounds.
“We’re known for our eco-tourism and we want the nature-based tourism,” he said.
“We need the campground areas. It’s a big part of the Florida Keys — always has been and hopefully always will be.”