The Beach Property Owners Association says the design approved on this 18,612-square-foot home is imposing.
Actor Kevin James’ 25,835-square-foot home actually appears smaller than it is from the street.
By Tim Pallesen
The mansion owned by actor Kevin James gets a top rating from his neighbors for curb appeal.
“It’s not overbearing,” said Andy Katz, president of the Beach Property Owners Association.
But an “abhorrent” mansion to be built up the street has BPOA leaders pushing for tighter design restrictions for new beach-area homes before their Dec. 12 annual meeting.
“The overwhelming issue is scale — the size or bulk of the house relative to the scale of the rest of the community,” architect Bob Currie said.
James, the TV actor who played the title role in King of Queens, paid $18.5 million last year for a 25,834-square-foot mansion on North Ocean Blvd. that doesn’t look that huge when viewed from the street.
But the smaller 18,612-square-foot mansion approved by the city to be built at 344 N. Ocean Blvd. — about two blocks away — truly appears like a huge house close to the street.
“The problem is that it goes straight up for three floors,” Katz said.
Mayor Cary Glickstein told BPOA leaders at an Oct. 8 commission workshop that he wants to hear whether beach residents share their desire for tighter restrictions. “The good news is that we have a lot of talented architects to explain why this is a good thing,” Glickstein said.
The BPOA has sent notices to 1,800 residents to discuss the issue at the 7 p.m. meeting on Dec. 12 at Northern Trust Bank.
Glickstein helped write the existing design guidelines enacted in 2005. He stressed how such restrictions have increased property values in Palm Beach and Gulf Stream.
The existing guidelines for coastal Delray Beach determine whether a property owner can get a city permit to build a house.
“We’re concerned that something that someone calls innovative may have a jarring effect on the neighborhood,” Katz told the City Commission on Oct. 8.
Current guidelines prohibit Quonset huts and geodesic domes. Modern architecture is discouraged, but not prohibited, in favor of a more Bermuda-style architecture with windows and upper-floor setbacks.
But BPOA leaders say existing guidelines don’t regulate the scale of a house in proportion to nearby homes. A BPOA design committee has contractors Scott Porten and Tom Laudani working with Katz and Currie to recommend changes.
“This is about preserving the look of an area to make it an harmonious neighborhood with houses that aren’t identical but are built to scale,” Katz said. “Size by itself is not the issue — but scale compared to the size of the lot and the neighborhood.”
Currie said the BPOA respects a property owner’s right to design a house he likes. But he said some restrictions are necessary to benefit the overall appearance of the beach neighborhood.
“The reason to do this is to stop things that are abhorrent,” he said.