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April 17, 2013

Miami Beach commission won’t intervene in historic-house controversy — yet

Miami Beach Commissioner Jonah Wolfson on Wednesday tried to stop efforts to designate a Star Island home as historic, but didn’t get support for the measure.

Miami Beach Commissioner Jonah Wolfson on Wednesday tried to stop efforts to designate a Star Island home as historic, but didn’t get support for the measure.

Wolfson added a last-minute resolution to the regular commission agenda to overrule the Historic Preservation Board’s recent decision to move forward with the historic designation of the home. Wolfson wasn’t at the meeting when the item was discussed, and his fellow commissioners declined to take up the resolution.

Mayor Matti Herrera Bower said it wasn’t fair to put the item on the agenda last-minute, and commissioner Ed Tobin agreed.

But commissioners will have another chance to vote on the measure: It was put on the next commission agenda, with a time-certain of 5 p.m. set by Bower, “so residents can come.” That meeting is scheduled for May 8.

The home at the center of the battle is owned by Leonard and Lisa Hochstein. He is a plastic surgeon known as “The Boob God,” and she is a cast member of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Miami . They recently bought the 1925 home at 42 Star Island and asked Miami Beach for permission to tear it down. Preservationists, however, have been fighting to save the home — designed by Florida’s first registered architect, Walter DeGarmo — by declaring it historic.

The Hochsteins have already gotten permission to tear down the mansion, but that’s in limbo while the competing historic designation application is considered. Both the demolition approval and the historic designation processes have been appealed, and Leonard Hochstein has sued the city over the whole thing.

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