Tag Archives: Design Review Board

Three-story home proposed for tiny Farrey Lane on Belle Isle

The vacant property at 7 Farrey Lane is next to the Standard.

The vacant property at 7 Farrey Lane is next to the Standard.

A prominent Miami Beach architect wants to build a three-story glass and concrete home on the Biscayne Bay end of Belle Isle’s Farrey Lane, just east of The Standard spa resort.

IMG_4589The bayfront site is small, as are all the lots on Farrey Lane, one of two Belle Isle streets developed in the early 1940s with one-story villas. The property is almost 4,300 square feet, tiny by single-family home standards, though the among the largest on Farrey Lane.

The owner is architect Rene Gonzalez, noted for his contemporary glass and stone designs for homes and buildings. One home he designed, a 30,000-square-foot mansion in Indian Creek Village, sold for $47 million in 2012, then the most expensive home sale in Miami-Dade County.

The Farrey Lane home obviously is much smaller than that — proposed to be 2,700 square feet. Gonzalez bought the vacant lot in March 2014 for $1,435,000.

Gonzalez’s proposal may be smaller than his other projects, but it’s big for Farrey Lane, where property records show most homes are two-bedroom, one-bath, and about 1,200 square feet. There are two three bedroom homes on the street, one 1,500 square feet, and the other 2,400, and they also front the bay. All are one story.

The 3-story home would go here.

The 3-story home would go here.

The 40-foot height of the home is driven in part by elevating it for flood protection.

Miami Beach’s Design Review Board is scheduled to consider the project on Tuesday. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m.

Gonzalez is seeking three variances, all driven by the small size of the lot. They would waive minimum setbacks for a dock, for side property lines and for parking in front of the home.

City staff has recommended approving the variances, noting that the actual square footage of the home doesn’t require a variance, nor does the building height.

The bungalows on Farrey.

The bungalows on Farrey.

The Belle Isle Residents Association wants the Design Board to delay its decision. In a email to homeowners, BIRA president Scott Diffenderfer advised that neighbors are concerned about the scale of the project, and Gonzalez has not responded to a request that he meet with the association to give an overview of his plans.

“We have asked that this presentation be deferred until the neighborhood has a chance to review, but it appears the developer is not willing to do that,” he wrote. 

Gonzalez’s designs have drawn international praise. He was featured in a  July 2013 Wall Street Journal profile,  which said he  “is interested in how homes reflect and interact with their environments, making glass and reflective surfaces his favorite materials. In one apartment he designed in South Beach, he used reflective latex panels on the ceiling to reflect the view outside, giving the room the impression of being surrounded by the outside scenery.”


DiLido property owner withdraws plan for two-lot mansion


Latin American cable executive Ahmad Lee Khamsi on Tuesday withdrew his proposal to build a 12,000-square-foot home on two lots he owns on West DiLido Dr. before Miami Beach’s Design Review Board could vote on the plans.

The address of the existing homes are 206 and 212 W. DiLido Dr. Each lot is 10,500 square feet, and according to the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser website, Khamsi bought 212 W. DiLido in May 2011 (for $2.6 million) and 206 W. DiLido in June 2012 (for $2.28 million).

Some Venetian homeowners opposed the plans as out of scale for the neighborhood, though Venetian Island Homeowner Association president Juergen Brendel had urged neighbors not to sign a petition against it.

The withdrawal by Khamsi came after the Design Review Board delayed for six months a controversial request to tear down a 1924 Star Island home that had been designed by famed architect Walter DeGarmo. That request came from Real Housewife of Miami Lisa Hochstein and her husband, plastic surgeon Leonard Hochstein.

Design Review Board to consider giant house on DiLido Island

Front view of proposed home at 206/212 W. DiLido Dr.

Front view of proposed home at 206/212 W. DiLido Dr.

Most of the attention at Tuesday’s Miami Beach Design Review Board meeting will be focused on the request from Real Housewife 0f Miami’s Lisa Hochstein and plastic surgeon hubby Leonard to knock down a 1925 Walter DeGarmo house on Star Island — replacing it with a mega-mansion.

But at the same meeting, the design board will consider another proposal — to knock down two homes (on two lots) on DiLido Island on the Venetian Causeway and replace them with one huge house.

appraiserThe address of the existing homes are 206 and 212 W. DiLido Dr. Each lot is 10,500 square feet, and according to the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser website, both homes were purchased by Ahmad Lee Khamsi — 212 W. DiLido in May 2011 (for $2.6 million) and 206 W. DiLido in June 2012 (for $2.28 million).

Khamsi is a telecom and cable executive who heads Supercable, which provides digital cable service in Venezuela and Colombia. He lived in the Boca Raton area for more than a decade.

Both existing homes were built in the 1950s, and are just under 3,600 square feet each.

The new home design is just under 12,000 square feet, plus a large roof deck. It was designed by architects Choeff+Levy. Miami Beach Design Review staff called it “very handsomely designed.”

Petitioners against it say it’s out of scale for the island.

But in an email to Venetian homeowners, Venetian Island Homeowners Association president Juergen Brendel wrote:

These larger new high end homes will sell for much more per sq ft and enhance the value of all the nearby houses and lots. Opposing such development would be scaring all the ones that are currently paying high $$$ for our members. We should not do this.

He has also hired one of the best architect firm in the world from South Africa and is paying millions in design fees. We should encourage this it will raise the caliber of the neighborhood!

In any case, the 2 houses being replaced are really ugly and in disrepair. They need to be changed!

Court upholds Miami Beach height limit on Belle Isle Key apartment proposal

Proposed Belle Isle apartment complex

A three-judge Miami-Dade Circuit Court panel has upheld the city of Miami Beach’s decision to limit the height of a proposed Belle Isle apartment complex, rejecting a lawsuit filed by the owner of the Belle Isle Key Apartments.

In a decision released last week, the panel said Miami Beach had the right to tell the developer, EuroAmerican Group, Inc., that it could not exceed four stories one of the two buildings it proposed at 31 Venetian Way.

EuroAmerican wanted to replace the current complex — 120 units in four, three-story buildings — with a complex that would include 181 apartments in two five-story buildings,  including a 315-space parking garage topped by two tennis courts. Eliminating one floor from the smaller of the two buildings would have trimmed eight units from the project.

The city commission in November 2010 upheld an earlier recomendation from the Miami Beach Design Review board, based on advice from city staff.

The developer’s lawyer, Neisen Kasden, first challenged that decision to the city commission. The city attorney’s office and the city planning staff recommended the commission reject EuroAmerican’s appeal.

They commission did, and the developer sued, saying the design board didn’t have the authority to condition approval of a design based on reducing its height.

In their decision, the judges — Marcia Caballero, Orlando Prescott and Rosa Figarola — said the Design Review Board staff recommendations were consistent with how the design board and the city commission voted.

“Since both the Design Review Board and the City Commission relied upon those recommendations to make their decisions, those decisions are supported by competent substantial evidence,” the judges concluded.

Apartment plan for Belle Isle still on hold

Rendering of the proposed apartment complex.

The proposed apartment complex at 31 Venetian Way features a view corridor to Biscayne Bay.

The owners of Belle Isle Key Apartments, who have plans to demolish the three-story apartment buildings on the northeast corner of Belle Isle to build a five-story complex, asked the Miami Beach Design Review Board to delay considering their proposal on Tuesday.

The project now is on the May 4 Design Review agenda.

The proposed project is taller than what’s there now, but plans are spiffier. What’s proposed: 179 units in five-story buildings topped by a tennis deck. It’s modern architecturally, and would include mostly small one-bedrooms (700 square feet) and some two-bedrooms (900 square feet). The site plan includes a total of 269 parking spaces. The renderings show a hole in the middle of the main building so you can see the bay from the street.

The existing Belle Isle Key is three stories high with 120 units spread over about three acres. Here is a look:

The Belle Isle Key Apartment