Russell Galbut wants to build a modern mansion on Pine Tree Drive

Miami Beach developer was denied an additional three feet in height, but the home’s design was approved

Oct.October 03, 2019 12:30 PM
Proposed Galbut residence at 4260 Pine Tree Drive and Russell Galbut

Proposed Galbut residence at 4260 Pine Tree Drive and Russell Galbut

Russell Galbut wants to build a mansion on Miami Beach’s Pine Tree Drive — higher than the city’s allowed height.

After nearly an hour of making his case before the Miami Beach Design Review Board for an additional three feet in height for the planned mansion at 4260 Pine Tree Drive, Galbut had to settle for just one more foot above the 24-foot maximum.

The design review board approved plans for a two-story, tropical modern house that the Crescent Heights co-founder said he wants to build for his oldest daughter and her family. But the board declined his request to make the structure 27 feet tall because it would tower over neighboring properties.

Galbut and his architect, Ralph Choeff, claimed the additional three feet was necessary in order to have enough room to fit cars in an undercarriage that is part of the home’s design. The city is encouraging single-family home developers to incorporate undercarriages as a way to raise houses for sea level rise. However, because of the 24-foot maximum, the undercarriage for the proposed Pine Tree Drive house would only have a clearance of five feet, they said. “We are not asking for anything unreasonable,” Galbut said. “There is no way to park a car with [a] five foot headroom. We need eight feet.”

In addition to the driveway and parking area, the undercarriage would have room for a pool, an outdoor bar and an outdoor lounge on the backside of the property, Choeff said. He also noted that the home would have reflecting ponds that cut through the undercarriage. “This is one of the first homes with a completely useable undercarriage,” Choeff said.

However, some board members expressed concerns that the proposed building is not compatible with the adjoining homes and looked out of place. Galbut initially insisted that he would not be able to build the home without the additional three feet and would have to go back to the drawing board. But when a motion to grant his request failed, he settled for just one additional foot in height, which the board approved.

Property records show RonRuss Pinetree LLC paid $990,000 for the lot in January 2018.

The entity is managed by Galbut’s daughter Marisa Galbut and Dayami Aguiar, with an address at Crescent Heights’ Biscayne Boulevard headquarters.

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