Pre-war bungalow picked up and moved to build new Miami Beach townhouses

Rendering of Sofi House, left, and the pre-war bungalow
Rendering of Sofi House, left, and the pre-war bungalow

Many Miami Beach developers have grappled with historic preservation rules that prevent them from building over some of the city’s oldest structures. But an Argentinian group came up with a creative way to skirt the issue — by picking up, moving and integrating a 1920s-home into its townhouse project.

One Realty Capital, headed by founder Sebastian Casano, began that battle when started development of SoFi House. The company picked up a 7,000-square-foot site for $2.17 million at 234 Washington Avenue. But a pre-war bungalow, which was granted a historic designation in 1996, stood in the company’s way of building four luxury three-story townhouses.

“The city wouldn’t allow us to tear it down, but they would allow us to move it,” said John Sandberg of the Sandberg Nortmann Group, who’s listing the property along with Ann Nortmann and Ron Eppinger of Douglas Elliman.

So the developers had their architect Berenblum Busch integrate the 719-square-foot home into one of SoFi House’s four townhomes. Its interiors will be completely gut-renovated and it will be set on taller pilings, though its frontage on Washington Avenue will be maintained.

The bungalow-blended townhouse will be the smallest of the four at 2,400 square feet, and will also command the smallest asking price of $2.995 million. SoFi House’s other three measure 2,600 square feet and ask up to $3.6 million.

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One Realty’s move has the approval of at least one Miami Beach preservationist. Daniel Ciraldo, a noted historic activist in the city, said the Washington Avenue bungalow is one of only a few left from Miami Beach’s first settlements in the early 20th century.

“It seems like a win-win,” he told The Real Deal. “It really can’t be demolished, but they came up with a program that was sensitive in restoring the existing building and also bringing the property into the modern day.”

Sandberg said the developers, who are self-funding the project, recently began construction and expect to finish SoFi House by the end of 2017’s third quarter.

Check out a video of the home being moved below: