Henning, in an August 2011 letter to the board’s assistant preservation officer, described Parker’s motives for designing the home for the Landons as such: “The client…wanted Parker to design for them a very specific residence, one that was predominantly focused inwardly for privacy and one that allowed them to display and enjoy their own collection of art and sculpture.”
Others, however, have a different view of the home, which has been vacant since 2009 when Donald Carlin died.“I have been to that house at least five times. If the Historic Board named this house historic this is an outrage,” Gables resident George Volsky told the commission. “If someone gave me the house to live in, I would not accept that house and property. I would tear it down. It’s a singularly unpleasant house built by a good architect for a lady with strange taste.”
Milton Wallace, whose home at 55 Casuarina Concourse sits near the property, also objected to the home’s historic designation.
“There is nothing historic at 2 Casuarina Concourse. The old dogs in Gables Estates need to be torn down and beautiful new waterfront homes constructed,” he wrote in a February 2012 letter to Historic Preservation Officer Dona Spain.
Hall told the commissioners there were several issues related to the home:
• The home is aesthetically unappealing.
• The home is not reflective of the design quality and principles of Parker. (Parker, who cited architect Frank Lloyd Wright as an influence, died in 2011 at age 94.)
• The home’s courtyard provides limited views of Biscayne Bay and the Coral Gables Waterway.
• The kitchen and master bedroom are not modern, according to appraiser Robert Gallaher, whom the owner hired.
Gallaher, in a report with the city, concluded the property value would be between $10 million and $12 million, assuming demolition would be allowed. If the house were to remain, the value would fall to $3.5 million to $5 million.
Parker designed 39 homes in South Florida; four of them in Palm Beach County have been demolished.
“What we found in our test was, ‘Did Mr. Parker live in it? Did it win awards?’ If those things occurred, those homes have a higher value,” Gallaher said. He also concluded that a Parker home could be one of the highest-priced homes in a neighborhood, “but not automatically or all the time.”
Hall cited the Bert J. Harris Private Property Rights Protection Act of 1995, which the Legislature passed to provide greater protection to private property owners.
“The relief provided by the Harris Act is the right to an award against the City of Coral Gables for the property owner’s loss, which … is between $5 million and $8.5 million, together with attorney’s fees, and pre-judgment interest. The property owner is entitled to have its award determined by a jury,” Hall said in a September 2012 letter to the Gables’ Historical Preservation Board. He reiterated that before the commission on Tuesday.
Coral Gables City Attorney Craig Leen advised the commission to base its decision on the evidence and not be swayed about a potential lawsuit.
“I think we can defend Bert Harris Act,” Leen said.
The commissioners said they felt the home could be updated.
“You can add value to that house,” said Kerdyk Jr., president and CEO of Kerdyk Real Estate, who suggested a 10,000-square-foot addition.
Hall blasted that suggestion in an interview on Friday.
“Build an extra 10,000-square-foot addition? Is it still a Parker house? Are you kidding?’’
“What about modernizing the kitchen?” Commissioner Ralph Cabrera asked.
Spain said the historic designation does not preclude an owner from changing the property.
“They could easily remodel,’’ she said. “Lack of a master bedroom can be built. The section of property that blocks the view can be demolished. Designated property doesn’t mean it can’t be altered.”
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