'Real Housewives' Star Battles to Demolish Historic Mansion
"Real Housewives of Miami" star Lisa Hochstein and her husband, a plastic surgeon renowned locally as "the Boob God," are locked in a fight with preservationists who want to keep the couple from knocking down their $8 million mansion on Star Island in Miami, Fla.
Hochstein and her husband, Dr. Leonard Hochstein, bought the historic waterfront mansion for $7.6 million but now they want to tear it down and rebuild.
"It is really not functional or safe. As a matter of fact, the engineers have said that the balconies can fall at any time," Lenny Hochstein said as he led ABC News through the house's battered interior.
The Hochsteins want to demolish the house and build a 20,000 sq ft home with all the modern amenities.
"It will have more modern plumbing, modern air conditioning. It will be functional for our family," Hochstein said.
The couple breezed through the preliminary stages of city approval for their renovations, but ran into a wall in the form of Miami Beach's preservation society, which hopes to designate the "Gatsby"-era castle as a historic home, preventing it from being demolished.
An application for historic designation on the home was cleared by the City of Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board and now awaits final approval. For the Hochsteins, it's a waiting game since they can't make major improvements while the application is pending.
"Most homeowners of Miami Beach respect the history. This particular couple does not," said Kent Harrison Robbins, attorney for Miami Design Preservation League. "This is a matter of preserving the historic resources of a community."
When the couple hosted a gangster-style theme party last week, splattering fake blood all over the walls of the mansion, the Preservation League was not happy. Some would call the couple's paint party desecration to such a historic home.
The home, Robbins said, was built in the 1920s and is the "crown jewel" of Miami Beach. Star Island is also home to celebrities such as Rosie O'Donnell, P. Diddy and Gloria Estefan.
"This is not an $8 million house. The value of the property is in the land," Hochstein insisted.
Hochstein said preservationists didn't pay any attention to the home until he and his reality star wife purchased it.
"I don't think there is any question that all of this was because my wife has notoriety," he said.