March 6, 2013
Star Island is world-renowned for its affluence, exclusivity, and magnificent residences, some of which are one-of-a-kind historic masterpieces. With many Star Island homes being among the oldest and most unique in all of South Florida, there’s long been an effort to preserve them.
This recently came to a head when a local preservation tried to fight against plans to demolish the 88-year-old home on 42 Star Island Drive, which was recently purchased by a celebrity couple. After much resistance, the latest news from the Miami Herald reports that the home’s new owners will be allowed to proceed with plans to take it down.
A celebrity couple on Tuesday finally got approval to tear down an 88-year old mansion that preservationists want to protect.
But the saga over the Walter DeGarmo-designed home is likely to drag on: The Miami Design Preservation League has vowed to keep fighting to preserve the home.
Despite the promise to keep trying, an attorney for the couple argues that Tuesday’s approval is final, granting development rights that can’t legally be taken away.
Leonard and Lisa Hochstein — he, a plastic surgeon known as “The Boob God” and she, a cast member of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Miami — bought the mansion just months ago. They want to tear it down to make way for a larger home, complete with a wine cellar and five-car garage.
“I’m ecstatic,” Lisa Hochstein said after the approval. “I’m hopeful it will be done before this summer.”
Plans to demolish the home were met with resistance from the start, with some locals being displeased by what they felt was a destruction of a historic part of Miami.
After the Hochsteins asked Miami Beach’s Design Review Board to approve their plans, preservationists filed an application to save the home from wrecking balls by declaring it historic. The battle over the house has dragged on for months.
Kent Harrison Robbins, an attorney working pro bono for the preservation league, argued that the Hochsteins shouldn’t have gotten their plans OK’d because of procedural issues.
Preservationists have also taken issue with a structural report submitted on behalf of the Hochsteins, which claims that the home is structurally unstable. Structural engineer Herbert Gopman told design board members that the report was “basically useless.”
Board members said they were comfortable with the report and approved the Hochsteins’ plans.
William Cary, the city’s historic preservation director, has argued that denying the Hochsteins’ application would be unethical because the home was not historic when they bought it, and preservationists did not mount their fight to save it until after the couple made plans to tear it down.
Despite the clearance, opponents of the demolition vow to continue fighting on, meaning that this controversy may continue for much longer.
It’s a testament to the beauty and elegance of Star Island homes that some properties would be strongly regarded as historic masterpieces. The world-class design and construction that characterizes many luxury Miami Properties explains why the market is rebounding spectacularly. To learn more, contact Metro 1 Properties, the leading local realtor, at 305-571-9991.