Neighbor fed up with construction of mega mansion on Palmer Avenue
Marc and Sharon Hagle started construction on the 40,000-square-foot home that includes a greenhouse and a gun range in 2021
Nov. 17, 2023
By Beth Kassab
Jerome Henin says he wakes up to the sound of beeping construction vehicles, hears the loud whirl of a commercial-sized air-conditioning unit at all hours from inside his home and must repeatedly clean layers of concrete dust that has settled on his own cars.
“Every morning for three years, I wake up to the sound of these beeps at 6:45,” Henin said. “I open my door every morning … you have so much going on, it’s amazing how traumatic it is.”
It’s not the kind of ambiance you would expect along Palmer Avenue, a mostly quiet road lined with trees and stately lakefront homes where occasional speeders have been the primary nuisance.
For Henin, though, living next to the largest residential construction project in the region has meant a cacophony of disturbances and concerns, according to a letter from his attorney Tucker Byrd to the City Commission and city administrators.
“The city has done little or nothing to address the problems, which seem to compound and increase, almost daily,” the Oct. 27 letter stated.
The letter outlined concerns ranging from whether the permits are still active on the property nearly three years into construction to questions about noise and safety related to the gun range and stormwater runoff.
An attorney for the city responded last week that there are no code violations related to the property and that Henin’s concerns are unfounded.
“Living next door puts Mr. Henin and his family in the possible line of fire and sound,” said the letter from Byrd. “Possessing firearms may be a constitutional right, but discharging them in a neighborhood with impunity surely should be reviewed.”
The response from city attorney Richard Geller said the gun range is “permitted as an indoor, enclosed facility in the basement of the house.”
“The city does not understand your contention that Mr. Henin and his family are in the ‘possible line of fire,'” he wrote. “The gun range includes acoustical tiles for sound amelioration. The city addressed this concern when raised my Mr. Henin before construction began.”
When asked about the construction complaints this week, Marc Hagle, who operates large commercial and residential developer Tricor International, told the Voice, “I’m not going to comment on all of that,” and hung up the phone.
Hagle and his wife Sharon purchased the property in 2017 for $3.6 million. The couple has been called the first married pair on a commercial space flight after they took an 11-minute ride on a Blue Origin rocket some 62 miles above earth last year.
The Hagles made headlines this year over a lawsuit they filed against the CEO of OceanGate Expeditions, the company that operated the submersible vehicle to view the wreckage of the Titanic, before the sub imploded this summer, killing everyone on board. The couple had made a deposit to ride on one of the undersea voyages, but their trip was delayed.
Henin, a native of France, is also a developer of residential and commercial properties in Florida and Europe. His home next door to the Hagles was built in 1926 by famed Winter Park architect James Gamble Rogers and at 9,700-square-feet is less than a quarter of the size of the house under construction.
Henin said he is disappointed by the city’s response to his concerns. The city attorney suggested he call the police about noise complaints and said the Hagles’ contractor has said he will perform sound testing periodically to make sure there are no violations.
Geller, the attorney for the city, also said officials are not aware of any terrain alterations that would cause stormwater runoff onto the Henin property nor is there anything the city can do about a large electrical transformer box installed about 40 feet from Henin’s driveway because it serves the entire neighborhood and utilities crews must be able to access it.
“The city should be our guardian … should be our protector,” Henin said. “They are saying it’s not our problem, basically.”