Over the past two years, Palm Beach County property records show, Fane Lozman paid $824,000 for five parcels of submerged land in Riviera Beach, totaling 24.46 acres. The land sits in a large lagoon between the mainland and Singer Island.
It's in that glistening lagoon that he intends to turn his one-man endeavor into an upscale
houseboat— er, "floating home" — community of perhaps 40 homes.
He's dubbed his new property "The Renegade" and says there's been a lot of interest in his proposal: "Look at the little ding-dong condos going for 2-3 million bucks. I'll get you in a beautiful floating home for a little bit over a million, a million and a quarter. You'll get like a quarter of an acre of submerged land off Singer Island for a dock with utilities. You'll get a floating home, a spot for your boat, for your kayak, and you've got the [John D. MacArthur Beach State] park and the beach on the other side of A1A. It's the ultimate lifestyle. Wake up in the morning and jump right off the front porch. People are saying, 'Where do I sign up?'"
You might recognize Lozman's name. In the mid-2000s, when he blocked Riviera Beach from selling off its public marina to benefit a private developer, he drew the ire of city officials, who punished him by causing his floating home to be towed away by federal marshals in 2009 and later destroyed by court order. Lozman sued the city, and his case — which hinged on whether the structure was a "vessel" or a home — made it all the way to the Supreme Court, where it was decided in a landmark ruling in 2013 that it was indeed a floating home instead of a vessel and had therefore been seized unlawfully under federal maritime law. He's still fighting in court for reimbursement of $191,000 in legal fees.
The condo residents who overlook the Singer Island lagoon, on the other hand, aren't nearly as thrilled. Citing environmental and aesthetic concerns, the Singer Island Civic Association issued a statement late last year urging "extreme caution in proceeding with any development or activity in the lagoon."
On an online discussion forum, an association member using the screen name Laurie D. put it bluntly: "How he got OK'ed for purchasing the property's and doing what he is doing to it is astounding!! He doesn't even have respect for Riviera Beach/Singer Island. Why is he here? Just to be a thorn in our side, I guess. Just a very concerned resident sharing what others are all saying. No one is happy about it, believe me."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to New Times Broward-Palm Beach's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling South Florida's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Lozman, though, says there's not much anyone can do to stop him.
In 1924, the State of Florida sold the land he now owns to a developer to fill in and build houses on. The developer did nothing with it and instead sold it to buyers who passed it down to their heirs. Those heirs sold it to Lozman. "It's zoned residential." he says. "I have a right to use the property. I also have a right to fill it in... You can't have someone pay taxes on it for 92 years and then say, 'No, we're not going to let you do anything... But that's OK; if you don't want me to do anything with it, cut me a check for $30 million and have a nice day."
Regarding its current status, Lozman says, "We're going through the design phase. We have to go through the permitting phase. The whole process might take another year."
He also noted he's considering a blend of floating homes and traditional homes: "I have so much property up there, I may fill in some to build single-family homes and some just to have a buffer for like a clubhouse and a pool and parking and all. So some may be single-family mansions on an acre each, and some will be a floating home community. It's going to be a blend."