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Key West's Main Drag May Get A Make-Over

Bob Krist
Florida Keys News Service

  Stretching just over a mile from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, Key West's Duval Street has something for everyone. It's got high-end restaurants and rowdy bars, tasteful boutiques and tacky T-shirt shops. And it's home to some of the island's iconic establishments, like Hemingway hangout Sloppy Joe's and Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville.

And it's undeniably popular. That's why Natasha Matarazzo opened her store, Tucker's Provisions, on Duval a year and a half ago.

"If you want to be in business in Key West and you want to attract a lot of visitors, Duval Street is pretty much where you've got to be," Matarazzo said.

But Matarazzo thinks the street could use some improvements, and she's not alone. The Key West City commission recently decided to spend $115,000 on a redesign for the street.

Possible changes include leveling the sidewalks with the street to make the space more flexible, and possibly removing cars entirely. Matarazzo said she supports that idea, and Duval's current sidewalks are too narrow.

Credit Nancy Klingener / WLRN
Tucker's Provisions opened on Duval Street a year and a half ago.

"People are crowded. It's also hot, so it would be nice to have some shade," she said. Adding public bathrooms would be another welcome amenity.

Not everyone agrees. The city commission was split 4-3 in its vote approving the make-over. The opponents included City Commissioner Mark Rossi, who owns the Rick's/Durty Harry's complex of bars on Duval.

Supporters of the redesign plans say it will be at least two years before any physical changes are made to the street.

Nancy Klingener covers the Florida Keys for WLRN. Since moving to South Florida in 1989, she has worked for the Miami Herald, Solares Hill newspaper and the Monroe County Public Library.