The Landon House at 2 Casuarina Concourse in Gables Estates, designed by prominent architect Alfred Browning Parker, is once again the subject of a legal battle between Coral Gables and the estate of B. Carlin over its designation as historic.
The 11,183-square-foot home was built in 1966 for art-collectors and philanthropists Robert Kirk Landon and his then wife, B. Landon.
Earlier this month, property owner Cascar LLC, which represents the estate of B. Carlin, whose sole beneficiary is the B. Carlin Foundation, filed suit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court seeking damages of at least $7 million for the loss in fair market value resulting from a denial of the estate’s application for demolition of the residence, plus associated costs. The suit seeks damages under the Bert J. Harris Private Property Protection Act, which the Florida Legislature passed in 1995 to provide greater protection to owners of private property that loses value because of government regulation.
The Coral Gables City Commission unanimously voted in February to reject the owner’s contention that keeping the home intact was “an undue economic hardship.” Cascar LLC wants to set aside the city’s historic designation of the property so the home, set on two acres along Biscayne Bay in the upscale gated community, can be demolished.
At the February hearing appraiser Robert Gallaher, hired by the owner, delivered his report to the city, concluding that the property value would be between $10 million to $12 million on the condition that demolition would be allowed. If the house were to remain, the value would decline by more than half, to about $3.5 million to $5 million.
The suit cites four written contracts for sale on the property with offers ranging from $8.5 million to $10.2 million in 2010. The suit also lists seven written offers ranging from $5.5 million to $10 million. Of these seven, the only written offer not conditioned on the buyer obtaining a demolition permit was the lowest, with an effective date of November 2011.
None of the contracts or offers have been closed.
The city’s Historic Preservation Board voted unanimously in February 2012 to designate the property historic “based on its historical, cultural and architectural significance and its exceptional importance,” and the City Commission upheld that designation a month later. Historic properties cannot be demolished in the Gables, but can be modified, as recommended by the commission earlier this year.
At that hearing, Vice Mayor Bill Kerdyk Jr. suggested that the owners could boost value to the house without affecting its designation by adding a 10,000-square-foot addition, while former commissioner Ralph Cabrera suggested modernizing the kitchen after owners and their supporters said the house and its amenities were substandard.
“Bert Harris was created for exactly what occurred to the B. Carlin estate,” said Andrew Hall, the attorney representing the owner. “If you are going to create a governmental regulation that puts a disproportionate burden on a property owner like this one … it has economic consequences. When the government makes a decision that meets the standards of Bert Harris, the affected property owner can expect the government to compensate that owner from the harm that comes with that decision.”
Coral Gables City Attorney Craig Leen disagrees.