HISTORIC WALGREENS BUILDING ON DUVAL SELLS FOR $5.2 Million

The old Strand Theater, 527 Duval St., currently a Walgreens store, still has the theater’s brightly lit facade and marquee. GWEN FILOSA/Keys Weekly

A Miami-based real estate group with historic family ties to Key West announced on Aug. 29 that it now owns a Duval Street gem: the Walgreens building that once housed the landmark Strand Theater.

Representatives from the Orion Real Estate Group said the company paid $5.2 million for the property at 527 Duval St., buying it from the Walgreens corporation. The purchase took place on Aug. 23. 

The 10,000-square-foot building still has the iconic marquee and facade from the Strand, which opened in the 1920s. Each night on Duval, the luminous display pours over the 500 block of Key West’s most famous street.

Orion plans to keep the drug store chain as a tenant. 

“It will be a Walgreens for the foreseeable future,” said Caroline Williams, a publicist for the buyer, in a Sept. 6  email to the Keys Weekly.

The building also has two one-bedroom apartments in the back that Orion plans to renovate.

“But there won’t be any major redevelopment as it is a historic building.” Williams said.

Joseph Sanz, Orion’s executive chairman whose great-grandparents made a home in Key West in the early 1900s, said his group is “thrilled to close on this Walgreens building located on the well-known Duval Street in Key West. It’s a remarkable location and we are proud to continue expanding our portfolio with this historic building. 

“It’s a very meaningful acquisition for us, as my family, the Sanz family, has a long history in Key West and previously owned a restaurant on Duval Street,” Sanz added.

In 1902, Jaime and Margarita Sanz emigrated from Spain to Key West, via Havana, Cuba on the Olivette steamship. In Key West, the family opened the Victoria Restaurant at the corner of Duval and Greene streets. The Victoria closed in the 1930s and became home to Sloppy Joe’s Bar. 

The couple lived at 121 Duval St. and their four children were born here. The Sanz family left Key West for Miami in 1920.

Before becoming a Walgreens location, the former Strand building housed a Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium in 1993.

Gwen Filosa is The Keys Weekly’s Digital Editor, and has covered Key West news, culture and assorted oddities since she moved to the island in 2011. She was previously a reporter for the Miami Herald and WLRN public radio. Before moving to the Keys, Gwen was in New Orleans for a decade, covering criminal courts for The Times-Picayune. In 2006, the paper’s staff won the Pulitzer Prizes for breaking news and the Public Service Medal for their coverage of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. She remains a devout Saints fan. She has a side hustle as a standup comedian, and has been a regular at Comedy Key West since 2017. She is also an acclaimed dogsitter, professional Bingo caller and a dedicated Wilco fan.