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.
The 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 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 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.”