City Hall says house is historic, blocks demolition
A Coral Gables property owner won’t be able to tear down his Minorca Avenue home to build something new, the city’s Historic Preservation Board decided Thursday.
Property owner Mads Thomsen bought the home at 745 Minorca Ave. in June after verifying that it was not on the city’s list of designated historic homes. He thought that meant he could demolish the 1928 structure and build a new house on the 14,000-square-foot lot.
But as soon as he filed the application for demolition, the city started moving to declare the house historic. It turned out that under a 2002 ordinance, all requests to demolish old homes must first be evaluated by the city’s historic preservation department, which led to Thursday’s hearing.
The board voted 9-0 with little discussion to approve Historic Preservation Officer Dona Spain’s recommendation that the house be added to the list of historic properties.
But Mickey Marrero, an attorney for Thomsen, said the city’s law fails to spell out the criteria for designating a house as historic, and the board failed to explain the factual basis for its decision.
“We’ve seen nothing from the city as to why, how it meets the criteria specifically, and what elements of it are historically significant,” said Marrero, a partner with Bercow Radell & Fernandez, and a former assistant city attorney for several South Florida communities.