Shipyard on Miami River ties its future to planned marina on Watson Island
By Susan Stabley
The new owners of a Miami River shipyard said they have long-range expansion plans linked to development of a megayacht marina on Watson Island.
The uncle and nephew team of Victor and Jose Bared are looking for waves of customers from development planned for Watson Island. The Bareds recently purchased the shipyard business, which is more than 50 years old, from the Jones family.
Timing is everything.
A megayacht marina is planned on the manmade hunk of land along the MacArthur Causeway connecting Miami and Miami Beach as part of Flagstone Properties' $281 million Island Gardens project, which also includes two high-end hotels, shops and restaurants. The project has yet to break ground and is years away from completion.
The purchase price for the shipyard was not disclosed.
The boatyard is at 3399 NW South River Drive on about 6 acres on the south side of the river at Northwest 25th street just east of Miami International Airport. The Bareds separately purchased 2 acres adjacent to the boatyard for their expansion plans.
The company employs about 52 workers, at least six of whom were hired since the acquisition of the shipyard, said Jose Bared.
Jose Bared said his yard has the largest lifting capacity for megayachts south of Savannah, GA. The full-service shipyard offers engineering, plumbing, electrical, painting and structural improvement on vessels up to 300 feet in length and for 50 or 60 ships at a time.
"Think of these ships as floating buildings, self-sufficient with all the systems you would find in a building," he said.
Remodeling at the yard has begun, he said, and other improvements and more hiring will follow.
The renovations are the first major improvements to local boatyards since work on Merrill-Stevens Dry Dock Co. in the mid-1990s, said Phil Everingham, vice president of Merrill-Stevens, also on the river near the Northwest 12th Avenue bridge. His company has an annual payroll of $2 million and average annual revenue of $10 million.
Merrill-Stevens and Jones Boat Yard are the river's two oldest establishments for repairing ships and servicing luxury yachts and commercial vessels. Miami had the lion's share of the boatyard business in South Florida about 20-25 years ago, before much of it moved to Broward County, said Mr. Everingham.
"Fort Lauderdale has the largest concentration of marine facilities anywhere in the US, perhaps the world," said Mr. Everingham. But, he said, "Broward is saturated. There aren't more areas to develop."
Jose Bared said Broward shows there is a demand for his business. "Look at the hotels and properties, even the apartments and condominiums, on the New River (in Fort Lauderdale). All are being outfitted to cater to the megayacht industry. Look at the value and economic impact this industry brings to that area."
Jose Bared and Mr. Everingham agree that the economic impact of the marine industry in Miami is overlooked, but they say that may change with the anticipation of Watson Island's megamarina.