Miami Beach

Star Island mansion preserved, moved to make way for new home

The 7,000 square-foot home at 22 Star Island Drive was lifted up on hydraulic dollies Wednesday and moved to another part of the property.
The 7,000 square-foot home at 22 Star Island Drive was lifted up on hydraulic dollies Wednesday and moved to another part of the property. Provided to the Miami Herald

Another historic mansion on Star Island is getting shifted over instead of torn down to make way for a new residence.

The 7,000 square-foot home at 22 Star Island Dr. was lifted up on hydraulic dollies Wednesday and moved to another part of the property — a move that allows the owner to build a new mansion and pleases preservationists who wanted to save the 1931 home from demolition.

The home was designed by renowned architectural firm Kiehnel and Elliott and was once home to the son of Hetty Green, known as the Witch of Wall Street during the Gilded Age. Kiehnel and Elliott designed many notable buildings in South Florida, including the Coconut Grove Playhouse, El Jardin, now part of Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart, Coral Gables Congregational Church and Miami Senior High.

Owner Stuart Miller, CEO of Miami-based homebuilding firm Lennar, had originally submitted plans to the city to demolish the two-story home in 2014. In the spring of 2015, Miller changed his plans and asked for approval to rotate the existing structure so he could build a 20,000 square-foot mansion next to it.

It’s the second such project in two years. In December 2014, the owner of 27 Star Island had the 1925 Walter DeGarmo home lifted and moved to another corner of the property to make way for a new mansion.

Concerns over the future of old, architecturally significant homes in Miami Beach have grown in recent years, particularly after a well-publicized controversy over 42 Star Island, which met a different fate. Instead of a short trip across the lot, the 1925 DeGarmo home, known for its arches and rich architectural details, got the wrecking ball after a long battle between preservationists and the owners, Real Housewives of Miami cast member Lisa Hochstein and her husband, plastic surgeon Leonard “The Boob God” Hochstein. The house was at the tip of Star Island and visible from the MacArthur Causeway.

Joey Flechas: 305-376-3602, @joeflech

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