January 15, 2014

City Commission staying out of Miami Beach historic-home dispute

The fight to preserve or tear down a 1925 Miami Beach mansion owned by a celebrity couple will be decided by a court.

Miami Beach Commissioners on Wednesday voted not to historically designate the home of the “boob god” and a “Real Housewife” — potentially paving the way for the home to be torn down.

Still, the fate of the home depends on the outcome of a pending lawsuit.

The home, at 42 Star Island, has been at the center of a battle between the celebrity homeowners and preservationists.

Leonard and Lisa Hochstein — he, a well-known plastic surgeon and she, a cast member of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Miami received city approval to tear down the 1925 home in March 2013. Arguing the home is a landmark that needs to be preserved, the Miami Design Preservation League filed a competing application to save the home from demolition by declaring it historic.

Much was said about the timing of MDPL’s application for historic designation. The organization applied after the Hochsteins started the process to get approval to tear the home down.

Michael Larkin, an attorney for the Hochsteins, called that “grossly unfair.”

Miami Beach’s Historic Preservation Board had recommended preserving the home. The Planning Board, meanwhile, recommended against it — as did the city administration.

The commission had the final say as far as the city is concerned. Commissioners voted unanimously not to designate the home.

“That was a vote allowing the demolition of 42 Star Island,” said MDPL attorney Kent Harrison Robbins.

Still, the Hochstein’s can’t tear down the home yet. A lawsuit filed by MDPL appealing the city’s approval of a new home on the lot still needs to be decided.

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