Miami real estate group announces buying historic Walgreens building on Duval Street for $5.2M

The historic Walgreens building at 527 Duval St. in Key West still carries the iconic marquee and facade of the Strand Theater. CONTRIBUTED/ORION REAL ESTATE GROUP

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

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

The 10,000-square-foot building still has the iconic marquee and facade from the legendary Strand movie theater, which opened in the 1920s.

“It will be a Walgreens for the foreseeable future,” said Caroline Williams, a publicist for the buyer, the Orion Real Estate Group, in an email to Keys Weekly on Wednesday.

The building 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. 

“We are thrilled to close on this Walgreens building located on the well-known Duval Street in Key West,” said Joseph Sanz, Orion’s executive chairman, in a statement. “This is a very meaningful acquisition for us.”

Jaime and Margarita Sanz emigrated from Spain to Key West, via Havana, on the Olivette steamship in 1902. Within 20 years, the Sanz family opened the Victoria Restaurant at the corner of Duval and Greene streets that later became the famous Sloppy Joe’s Bar

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

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.