But city planners, in a report to the design review board, called the DeGarmo house exceptional and questioned the Hochstein engineers claim that the house is beyond repair, noting that he apparently conducted no testing to prove it. The report says the condition of the house appears quite typical of homes from the period before renovation.
The city analysis of the plan also concludes the new house and a separate garage and guest house would be plunked down on the pie-slice-shaped lot with no design relationship or consideration to each other, adjacent residences, or the unique geometry of the property. The planners urged the board to postpone consideration of the application and suggested the architect, Kobi Karp, go back to the drawing board.
According to CurbedMiamis analysis of Karps plan, the Classically-inspired home will be festooned with double-height columns, parapets, balustrades, heavy iron gates, and garland moldings above the windows. It has a five car garage with guest apartment, a separate two-story guest house, a large pool, a motor court, a home theater, a gym, a game room, a massage room, an office, a kitchen island the size of a medium-sized boat, a chandelier in the foyer bigger than some cars, twin grand staircases, and six bedrooms in the main house.
DeGarmo, the existing homes architect, was a pioneer in the Mediterranean Revival style in Miami in the 1920s and widely regarded as one of the best from that period.
He designed numerous prominent buildings and homes in the Beach, including the Miami Beach Community Church on Lincoln Road Mall, as well as the Villa Woodbine home and the Coconut Grove Womens Club, both of which are designated historic by the city of Miami. The womens club is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Some DeGarmo houses are also protected in the Gables, a city spokeswoman said.
Both Miami and the Gables, like many historically-minded municipalities, give their preservation boards the power to legally protect architecturally distinguished or historic homes without owner consent. Backers say its the best way to ensure preservation of historic neighborhoods.
The Gables board, in fact, recently made headlines when it designated a home historic after someone purchased it as a tear-down.
But preservationists say Beach elected officials have been unwilling over the years to beef up their ordinance to permit the preservation board to initiate the designation of individual homes, though some, especially on South Beach, may be included within protected historic districts.
One reason the DeGarmo house is getting so much attention is that applications for demolition of homes on the Beach has skyrocketed as the housing market recovers, endangering its rich trove of architecturally distinct homes from the 1920s to the 1950s.
This year, the city has received 24 applications for total demolition of homes, compared to three the year before, said Miami Design Preservation League chairman Charles Urstadt, citing a city report.
Urstadt, who like others blames a wave of speculation and house-flipping, signed the petition to save the DeGarmo house, devised by Beach entrepreneur and preservationist Daniel Ciraldo, and said its time for the city to do something.
We do have some historically significant homes left, but weve lost so many. Its a tough problem to address, but how are we going to combat this? Urstadt said.
Said Ciraldo: It may be too late to save this house. But we may be able to save some of the remaining houses before theyre all replaced with these out-of-character McMansions.