From the outside, the home of "Real Housewives of Miami" star Lisa Hochstein and her plastic surgeon husband, Leonard (both pictured above), looks nothing short of idyllic. The ivory mansion -- designed by Florida's first registered architect, Walter DeGarmo -- just outside Miami on Star Island, boasts elegant arched windows, grand columns and balconies with intricate wrought-iron railings. But all that glitters is not gold, according to the Hochsteins: The couple say that their dream home turned out to be a complete nightmare.
The celebrity couple claim that the entire home is "falling apart," The Miami Herald reports. They say the entire structure is sinking and has slid 30 inches below the floodplain. Furthermore, the Hochsteins allege that the home is dangerous -- the roof is rotting and the supports on its balconies are so rusted that they could collapse.
According to the Hochsteins: The grounds are also in desperate need of attention -- cockroaches have infested the property, the backyard is overrun with knee-high grass, and the swimming pool is like a "swamp," swarming with bugs. The couple further alleges in a report submitted to the City of Miami that the home's life expectancy was only "about 40 years" and should have been demolished decades ago.
"We bought this house with the intention of building our dream home," Lisa Hochstein told The Miami Herald. "If we knew this was going to happen, we would have never purchased this home."
The Hochsteins' plan is to tear down the existing structure and replace it with a new 14,000-square-foot mansion -- complete with a wine cellar and five-car garage. But not if the Miami Design Preservation League has anything to do with it: The organization has filed an application with the City of Miami to declare the home "historic" and thus prevent the Hochsteins from demolishing it.
Miami Beach's Historic Preservation Board has thrown its support behind the appeal for historic designation, saying the home is not as bad as the Hochsteins allege. "To my trained, professional eye ... I didn't find the structure of the house to be in terribly poor shape," architect and board member Ira Giller said at a board meeting. "I didn't find it to be irreparable. I didn't see significant evidence of significant structural deterioration."
The Miami Beach's Design Review Board will consider the Hochstein's petition for demolition on March 5, and the application for historic designation continues. According to the Herald, whichever side gets approval first will win. Even if the city does rule in favor of the Design Preservation League, the couple certainly won't be forced to live there. The Hochsteins still have another sprawling Miami McMansion to stay in: Their $10.75 million "Palacio del Eden" has still yet to find a buyer.
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