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Architectural Commission sends house back to drawing boards

Posted On: 06-02-2016

By Darrell Hofheinz

Daily News Real Estate Writer

The Architectural Commission last week shot down a controversial design for a proposed contemporary-style residence on a North End beach, a decision that pleased neighbors who had worried the house would intrude on their privacy and disrupt their neighborhood.

And although its modern architecture raised a few eyebrows at last week’s meeting, the sheer size of the house proposed for 1021 N. Ocean Blvd. appeared to be the main reason commissioners sent the designers back to their drawing boards for an extensive overhaul.

Of particular concern was the fact that the house would extend much farther east toward the beach than its neighbors — and 30 feet beyond the edge of the swimming pool of the house already on the lot, which measures more than a half-acre.

“I’m a big proponent of contemporary houses. I love this house,” said Commissioner Robert N. Garrison. “But I think it’s way too big for the site.”

With a courtyard design, limestone details and large expanses of gray-tinted glass, the two-story house would have had a total of 25,198 square feet. That figure includes its abundant open-air living spaces and a 7,860-square-foot uninhabitable basement. In all, the plans show about 14,000 square feet of living space, along with a 246-square-foot tower.

The existing house is about 10,200 square feet.

At the end of the meeting, Caroline Koons Forrest, senior project manager for MP Design & Architecture of Palm Beach, pressed Chairman Richard Sammons for suggestions that might help the designers revise their plans. He equivocated but finally spoke before casting the lone vote against deferring the project until July.

“I think this thing fails more or less on every point,” Sammons said. “I’m not sure there’s a way to make improvements.”

He did make one suggestion, noting that with contemporary-style houses, smaller is often better.

Revisions made

The commissioners’ comments came after more than two hours of discussion about the house, which owner Don Burns wanted to build to replace the 1945 West Indies-style home where he has lived for 17 years. The property lies about five blocks north of the Palm Beach Country Club and its lot is much narrower than the estates on either side.

“He’d like to build a house that better reflects his tastes and lifestyle,” said Maura Ziska, his attorney.

Ziska added that over the past year, the design team had made 30 revisions to the plan to address the concerns of neighbors, including reducing the size of some windows and raising their heights, along with using louvers, grilles and screens to shield other windows.

Designed by Michael Perry, the proposed house would have met all code requirements and did not need any variances. But it would have required a “special exception” and site plan approval from the Town Council because it would occupy a “nonconforming” lot — 100 feet wide rather than the 125-foot minimum width required in its district. Council members in February decided the plans must first be reviewed by the Architectural Commission before they would take any action.

Demolition approved

At the start of last week’s discussion, commissioners approved a demolition request for Burns’ existing house, which is not landmarked. But several expressed dismay at doing so after they were told it was in good shape and saw photographs showing its interiors to be finely detailed.

“It’s a horrible waste of resources,” Sammons said.

During the meeting, several neighbors told commissioners that the house was too big and its style incompatible with other houses in the area. All of their oceanfront homes are within the 200-foot radius the commission considers when deciding whether a new house would be “excessively dissimilar” from others in the neighborhood.

Architect David Lawrence also spoke against the project on behalf of the opposition.

In contrast, architect David Chase gave a presentation about other modern homes in Palm Beach and how they had fared during the architectural review process.

 

 

 

Source: Darrell Hofheinz, June 2, 2016, Palm Beach Daily News

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