Real Housewives couple receive OK to tear down mansion
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) -- The "Real Housewives of Miami" couple have won the latest court battle in their effort to tear down their mansion on Star Island.
Reality TV stars Lisa and Leonard Hochstein received the OK to demolish their historic home, built in 1925 by Florida's first registered architect, Walter Degarmo. The residence stands at a visible corner, which can be seen from the MacArthur Causeway.
"The City, the Designer Review Board, gave us permission," said Dr. Hochstein, a renowned plastic surgeon. "He has upheld it, in the City. [The Miami Design Preservation League] has already hinted that the next step is to take this [case] to circuit court."
Preservationists have fought to keep the house from being demolished, saying it should be refurbished, not leveled, because of its historic and architectural significance to South Florida, a sentiment reinforced by the group's attorney. "This is a landmark structure, and it should be preserved," said Kent Harrison Robbins.
Even though the demolition was approved, its opponents have appealed the ruling. Their appeal, however, was denied by a Special Master appointed by the City of Miami Beach to look into the matter.
The preservationists indicated the ruling left the door open to take this matter to court. "We have the right to go forward to the courts and be able to challenge this decision."
The Hochsteins' mansion recently made headlines when the couple hosted a gangster-themed party at the home. Their opponents had argued the residence was sturdy enough for a party, which appears to contradicts the owners' claims that it is structurally unfit to live in.
"Well, the reason they're giving us a hard time is because [of] the publicity," said Dr. Hochstein. "My wife has notoriety. She's one of the Real Housewives [of Miami], and so they're using us as a platform to get more publicity for themselves."
Robbins rejected Hochstein's allegation. "On the contrary, he bought one of the most valuable or most revered homes that has the highest visibility for Miami Beach on the causeway," he said.
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