Lisa Hochstein has been the subject of more drama away from Real Housewives of Miami than on the show. Recently the Fembot came under fire along with her husband Dr. Lenny Hochstein when they submitted a request to tear down a historic Miami mansion and rebuild on the same Star Island lot.
The home in question was designed in 1925 by famed Miami architect Walter DeGarmo famous for the popular Mediterranean-Revival style of historic Miami. When historic preservation groups got wind of the Hochsteins' plans they immediate swung into action and fought to deny the demolition.
Lenny and Lisa bought the home in a foreclosure auction sight unseen. No inspection was done at the time of purchase. Lenny claims they had initially planned to renovate the existing home but then discovered serious structural damage including a sinking foundation and decided it could not be salvaged. The home was NOT zoned a historic property at the time of purchase.
Preservation groups believe Lenny and Lisa planned to tear down the house all along and they are standing up to wealthy homeowners to protect their city.
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"We have reached a tipping point on Miami Beach where we are losing entirely too many pre-1942 single-family homes,” said William H. Cary, the assistant planning director for Miami Beach and the former preservation director for the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission tells the NY Times. “It appears it could begin to have a dramatic impact in changing the character of Miami Beach’s residential areas.”
The preservation committee considers the home a "crown jewel on that chain of islands" and decided they had to intercede in plans to demolish the home.
Lenny fights that viewpoint, insisting they are just facing controversy because of RHOM and groups are hoping to gain exposure and attention by exploiting the reality TV platform.
“The house is not habitable, and renovating it, while keeping the shell, is also not possible,” Dr. Hochstein insists. “It’s not a home that can be preserved.”
“If this home was a historic home, I wouldn’t have bought it," he maintains. "To go and try to do this after the fact, against my will, is really unsettling.” Lenny also feels preservation groups have no right to get involved in the process. “This is a residential home. It is a private home, a huge difference.”
Lenny is not giving up and plans to continue negotiations and redesigns to build a new home.
Activist agree that many homeowners feel they are entitled to do what they want with their own property, but that attitude has caused Miami to lose many beautiful and treasured landmarks. “Many residents feel they should have the right to demolish their homes; they own it," Mr. Cary concedes.
But he is not giving up the fight, believing it is too important to protect historic buildings. “There has to be substantial public support for it, and it’s going to be tough, yes, because development pressures and the level of wealth are so great.”
Michael D. Kinerk, chairman emeritus of the preservation league agrees. “Our historic architecture defines our city,” Mr. Kinerk said. “We have very strong preservation laws in Miami Beach, and it has done nothing but benefit the city. Nobody can dispute this.”
[Photo Credit: JLN Photography/WENN.com]
TELL US – ARE HISTORIC GROUPS TRYING TO MAKE AN EXAMPLE OF LENNY AND LISA? DO THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO DEMOLISH THE HOME?