The Real Deal Miami

Star Island manse to be demolished, replaced by modern home

Design Review Board decision ends bitter preservation fight

December 01, 2015 05:30PM
By James Teeple

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Existing home at 31 Star Island Drive and rendering of proposed new home by Kobi Karp

The Miami Beach Design Review Board on Tuesday unanimously approved design plans for the construction of a new 8,800-square-foot modern home that will replace a 14,800-square-foot mansion at 31 Star Island Drive, built in 1920 and one of the earliest large homes built on Miami Beach.

Preservationists had fought a months-long battle to keep the structure from being demolished, or have it moved, but the board agreed with experts who said the house did not comply with current building codes and that little of the original home was left after extensive renovations over the years.  

Wayne Holman, founder of Ridgeback Capital Management and his wife Wendy, formerly of Ziff Brothers Investments, bought the house and the 60,735-square-foot lot from Sam and Roni Jacobson for $18.8 million in June 2014.  The property is adjacent to a modern 16,438-square-foot home the Holmans own at 30 Star Island Drive, which they bought for $28.1 million in April 2014.

In September after protests against the planned demolition, the Design Review Board postponed approving plans for the new home to give the Holmans time to explore ways to preserve the 1920 structure.  However, Arthur Marcus, a preservation consultant hired by the Holmans to detail the home’s architectural history told the board there had been more than 6,000 square feet of additions over the years and the structure had been thoroughly altered.

entry way

Entry way at 31 Star Island

“There have been multiple additions over the years to the point where except for the east façade it is very hard to tell what was new and what was original,” Marcus told The Real Deal.  “Many of the additions have been added to look old and on first look one would think that it is an intact historic home.  Unfortunately most of what one sees was added in 1988 or 2004.”  

Wendy Holman, who attended Tuesday’s board meeting declined to comment, but in September she told the board she did not want to live next door to a very large house.  “I really didn’t want something that is excessive,” she said.  

living room

Living room at 31 Star Island

Plans to demolish the old house sparked a petition drive to save the structure and galvanized preservationists. Under Miami Beach law, demolition permits for architecturally significant pre-1942 homes can’t be granted until the Design Review Board approves design plans for a home that will replace it. Homes designated as historic by the city can’t be demolished or altered unless approved by the Historic Preservation Board.

Daniel Ciraldo, who leads preservation efforts on Miami Beach told TRD that efforts should have been made to preserve at least some parts of the old structure.  

“It’s too bad they couldn’t incorporate the mansion into their plans,” he said. “I think they would have had a great project, but in the end when you have policy makers who don’t put an emphasis on preservation these are the things that happen. ”