Nixon's Miami Helipad Is Grounded

Just because you buy a former president's home doesn't mean you'll live like one. That's what happened to the owners of 500 Bay Lane on Key Biscayne, Fla.

Dubbed the Florida White House, Nixon visited the home overlooking Biscayne Bay and the city of Miami about 50 times during his presidency from 1969 to 1974. The former world leader traveled by helicopter, landing on a helipad built and sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Defense for presidential use only.

Once Nixon vacated office and the Florida White House was sold, use of the helipad became a leftover luxury for who ever bought the house, until recently. Since Nixon, the home has had numerous owners. The 1983 Al Pacino film "Scarface" was even filmed there.

Current owner and South Florida real estate giant Edgardo Defortuna of Fortune International knocked down the former presidential vacation home in 2004 to build his own mansion, keeping only the helipad. Known as the "Greek House," Defortuna's home has domes, archways, fountains, an elevator and balconies on the second and third floors.

Local leaders on the Village of Key Biscayne grounded Defortuna's efforts to use the helipad, which some of well-to-do neighbors found irksome. Plus, city codes adopted after Key Biscayne incorporated in 1991 simply don't permit the use of a helipad.

An appeal's court recently agreed with village leaders, saying, "The federal use of the helipad by President Nixon's administration was immune from enforcement by reason of the supremacy clause of the United States Constitution and was not conformed into a legal non-conforming use for private individuals when the federal government ceased to use the helipad and conveyed the property to a private third party."

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