Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Front Page News: Key West Real World Lawsuit

The local Key West press, the Key West Citizen, has picked up on the lawsuit story that was reported here at http://www.keywestchronicle.blogspot.com
They included a great photo of the house, taken by an excellent local photojournalist Rob O'Neal:
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Sunday, August 28, 2005

Upcoming Real World Key West House Photos

I stopped by the house that MTV is preparing for the upcoming Key West season of The Real World.
It is impressive and situated in a neighborhood of very big and expensive homes.

Below is a shot of the street showing the type of homes in the area:

Next, below is a picture of the house, looking at the front gate. The gate is made from parts of airplanes, and the house also has a few more airplane adornments.
Key West houses
The house is made up of two structures - I believe the second structure houses a raquetball court. Here is a picture, below, of the main house, showing a little more of the house (the gate would be to the right in this photo)
Key West Real World
This next photo, below, was taken even further down the front of the house, showing the driveway and the vacant lot next door that is being used for production parking.
Real World Key West
Below is a picture of the tennis court, with the Real World house behind it. This was taken from the street as you first approach the house.
Key West tennis
Want to go inside? Who doesn't! It's pretty amazing and should be a great set for the show. Check back tomorrow, and I'll post photos of the interior.
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Saturday, August 27, 2005

Key West Businessman Suing MTV Real World

Wow! I can't believe it. Local tourism mogul Ed Swift has filed a lawsuit against MTV over the upcoming production of the Key West edition of the Real World.
Here is a little background, and the reason why this is soooo ironic: Ed Swift is the owner of the Conch Tour Train and Trolley, the islands biggest tourist business. He has become an empire, and even has had the luxury of having the city in it's back pocket (they signed an exclusivity deal years ago that prohibited any other tour business from operating on land - a recent lawsuit had the city on the wrong end of a 13.5 million dollar judgement for it's monopoly abuse practices and the harm it did to the small Duck Tours business). Ed Swift also owns numerous other attractions on Key West, including the Key West Aquarium, the Shell Market at Mallory Square, a couple tall ship schooners, and the Dry Tortugas ferry. Bring up the name Ed Swift in Key West, and more times than not, you'll get an emotional opinion - many think his mass-tourism ideas have over-run the city.
O.K...enough back-story.
Ed Swift is suing MTV because his Key Haven house on Driftwood Drive (just outside of Key West) is next door to the Key West Real World house.
I've included a picture of the Key West Real World House. Swift's house is next door.
According to the lawsuit, MTV has leased the property from June 28 until December 1. The house is approximately 6000 square feet, has a tennis court, and also includes a lot next door with a canal and open water views. Swift claims that the MTV production is "an unbearable nuisance". According to the lawsuit, Swift claims that it not legal for this type of commercial operation be conducted in this residential neighborhood...it's zoned that way. In the lawsuit, Swift says his family "can no longer enjoy entire sections of their home for fear of ending up on national television", and that the production would prevent his family from "enjoying normal daily activities including sleeping, relaxing, reading, working, and quiet conversation." He has requested an injunction to prevent filming until his case is heard. Basically, here are the complaints in his lawsuit:
  • too many lights - supposedly 70 outdoor lights have been installed
  • cameras that can point at his house
  • more lighting complaints including the installation of commercial halogen floodlights, mounted 20 to 30 feet high
  • five commercial air-conditioners (that are supposedly necessary to keep the house cool from all the lighting)
  • sponsor advertising around the tennis court (again, a commercial appearance for a residential neighborhood)
  • the producers signed a "commercial" account with the electric utility
  • too many cars parked - up to 30 cars are alleged to be using the vacant lot.
It's all kind of ironic, given that Ed Swift has had a deaf ear to many Key Westers complaints about his Trains and Trolleys. Many bemoan that these trains invade their neighborhoods, with a public address system pointing out the sights, and a slow pace holding up the traffic. Yet now he is the one demanding that his neighborhood is off limits to commercial activity.
Stay tuned, I'll update things as I get the info. Also, I promise more photos of the house!
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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Real World Key West

I saw the rumor about the location of the Key Haven home for MTV Real World Key West - that the house was owned by local big-name the "Spotswoods". The Spotswoods have a bunch of properties, but their main house on Key Haven (a really grand house) is not going to be the cast's house. My sources tell me the cast house is on the next street, called Evergreen. Not yet known if the house is owned by the Spotwoods. Residents in Key Haven have been noticing more cars in the area, especially from "young people" driving around with cameras in hand. As of right now, though, there is nothing to see beyond the normal neighborhood.
As soon as I can, I'll put up a photo of the cast's house.
For now, for those who can't wait, here is a photo of the Pineapple Gallery on Duval Street. Early word is that this is the location that the cast members will "work" from.
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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

MTV Real World Coming to Key West

My sources have informed me that the next season's taping of MTV's Real World will be in Key West Florida.
The deal has been signed for the cast members to live on a nearby island called Key Haven - about six miles from Key West. Key Haven is a residential community that is quickly attracting bigger and bigger dollars. Some home that have been built there are owned by some of Key West's biggest names. So, as is usually the custom on Real World, the cast members will likely have an amazing house to live in (just like the real world...right?).
My sources also tell me that the cast members will work on Duval Street at the Pineapple Gallery. I've heard that it might stay a gallery, or it might be converted into a different type of business for the cast members - maybe a tanning salon - as if that's something you need in Key West. Usually, if you want a tan, just walk outside.
One thing seems certain: Key West is a town known for it's excesses and quirky ways. I bet we'll see plenty of sparks flying. Plus, if any of the cast members behave like jack-asses (nah...on MTV?!), our local police will be happy to incarcerate them.
Most likely, they will be embraced by the party atmosphere of the island.
Anything I hear about Real World Key West I'll report here at http://www.keywestchronicle.blogspot.com . Count on seeing some candid photos of the cast and antics.
Stay tuned.
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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Key West City Commission Meeting

Tonight, the Key West City Commission met and is played live on local televisions. It is part comedy, part country politics, and part tragedy.
Put up before them - a proposal by owners of affordable housing developments to further restrict the affordable provisions about to expire. In exchange for a ROGO unit (a building permit that has become the ultimate currency of the Keys) they'll keep the units affordable for 25 years more. Commission moans, then groans. Developer offers 50 years. Commissioner Menendez asks for someone with a magic wand to come forward and fix the housing problem. Mayor is satisfied...Motioned, 2nded, passed. The city doesn't really realize that it's foundation is shaking. At one point in the discussions, a commissioner decried that it would cost a billion dollars to buy up the property necessary to solve the affordable housing crisis. Someone replied, nah - but it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
This is what needs to be done. The sooner, the better. Is still don't understand why the city can't appeal to the state, get some rogos for affordable housing, and buy some land and build the units themselves. Forget the private developers doing anything other than big ticket housing. And couldn't we do it cheaper anyway? The city will get some money back in rent...Actually, since the city is in perpetuity, it will eventually get paid back. And in the process, it could save the community's ability to function. So, in the city's future is spending hundreds of millions of dollars for housing, they just haven't come to terms with it.
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