Miami Beach

Fate of ‘Real Housewives of Miami’ couple’s Star Island mansion will come down to timing


The Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board decided on Tuesday to move forward with the process to designate the estate at 42 Star Island as historic.

Miami Beach’s Historic Preservation Board agreed Tuesday to pursue historic status for an 88-year-old Star Island mansion owned by a celebrity plastic surgeon and a reality TV star.

Ordinarily, the board’s move would freeze the owners’ plans to demolish it, but not this time. The reason: City staffers did not complete the normal preliminary paperwork for the project before the meeting..

As a result, the owners are in a race with the Miami Design Preservation League, which wants to save the house and filed the application for historic designation. If the city’s Design Review Board approves the demolition plan first, the owners win and can tear it down.

The design board next meets March 5, while the historic board won’t take up the application for the home at 42 Star Island again until probably April.

At stake is the fate of a mansion designed by Walter DeGarmo and currently owned by Leonard and Lisa Hochstein. He is a plastic surgeon known as “The Boob God.” She is a cast member of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Miami.

Normally, the city issues an “evaluation and recommendation” report “upon receipt of a completed application,” according to city rules. Historic Preservation Board members then decide whether to move forward with a more detailed “designation” report. If that happens, any petition to demolish the structure in question would be put on hold until the city decides whether the structure is indeed historic.

In this case, however, William Cary, Miami Beach’s preservation director, waited until the regular preservation board meeting on Tuesday to ask board members whether they really wanted to move forward with the preliminary report.

While he acknowledged that the home probably meets the criteria for historic designation, Cary called it “ethically unfair” that the application for historic designation was not submitted until after the Hochsteins bought the home and asked to tear it down. The couple has already spent time and money drawing up plans and going through the application process, he said. “I think it’s a bad precedent to set,” Cary said.

The board unanimously decided to move forward with the historic designation process anyway. But if the owners get the demolition application approved first, it will void the historic designation process, said Miami Beach Assistant City Attorney Gary Held.

Even if city staffers had prepared the paperwork, however, the board may have been unable to take binding action because, according to the city, The Miami Herald failed to publish an advertisement purchased by the city to notify the public of the meeting. As a general rule, actions taken at a meeting that was not properly advertised are void.

Follow @Cveiga on Twitter.

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