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42 Star Island Drive ()

The Miami Beach City Commission removed a major stumbling to demolition of the property on 42 Star Island Drive by voting against its historical significance.

In a contentious decision that drew gasps from the audience today, Miami Beach City Commission took a major stumbling block away from the controversial demolition of the property on 42 Star Island Drive, a historic Mediterranean Revival mansion that its owners want to raze.

Preservationists who want to keep owners Leonard and Lisa Hochstein from dissembling Walter DeGarmo’s 1925 work asked the city to consider designating the home a landmark. It’s the latest step in a fight to save the home, which included an appeal of the Hochsteins’ construction plans approved by the Miami Beach Design Review Board.

The white mansion framed by palm trees is familiar to drivers on MacArthur Causeway.

In a unanimous vote, the city commission and new Mayor Phillip Levine voted to approve the planning staff’s suggestion that the building is not historically significant.

Acting planning director Thomas Mooney told the commissioners that technical factors mitigated against a historic designation. For example, the current structure is four feet below flood level.

“I think it’s important for the commission to retain the flexibility to designate a home as historically significant over a homeowner’s wish in case of an extraordinary case of architectural, social or historical significant,” Mooney noted. “An example would be Carl Fisher’s first home.”

Drawing guffaws from the small crowd inside commission chambers, Mooney said, “This home … doesn’t rise to that level.”