Grove marina expected to be completed by end of year
By Shannon Pettypiece
Coconut Grove should have a new full-service marina by the end of the year, easing congestion at the county's other facilities.
Grove Harbour Marina has filled its 54 wet slips and is hearing about tremendous demand for its 200 exterior dry slips expected to be in service by next month, said developer Felix Lima.
"We are still under construction, so it isn't the best facility, and yet we are 100% leased," Mr. Lima said. "We don't even have a real toilet yet."
Mr. Lima and his son, Alan, are converting two 50-year old airplane hangars once used by Pan American Airways into a marketplace and dry storage facility at 2640 S. Bayshore Drive.
By the end of the year, the marina will have 90 interior dry slips and a wide range of amenities such as a market, showers, a sauna, a public boardwalk, a boat-repair yard and a concierge service.
"We are really going to pamper our tenants," Felix Lima said. "We are going to be a little more sophisticated."
The marina can handle 120-foot boats and has one of the largest lifts in the county, he said. But they cannot accommodate heavy boats because the water is too shallow.
While the project originally was planned with a restaurant and shopping center, the developers decided to use the space for storage because of a huge demand for marine services, Mr. Lima said.
"Instead of a restaurant, we expanded the dry slips. That is why we are going to have over 200," Mr. Lima said. "There is a lot of demand for that type of facility, so we decided to expand the marine component."
Miami-Dade County has six marinas run by the parks department, which has a waiting list for wet slips. The county cannot expand its marinas because of state and federal regulations, said parks director Vivian Donnell Rodriguez.
Ms. Rodriguez said the marinas generated more than $2 million in net revenue last year.
County Commissioner Javier Souto, chairman of the commission's arts and recreation committee, said last week during a presentation to the committee that something must be done to meet the growing demand for wet slips in the county. Commissioner Sally Heyman suggested that the parks department evict delinquent marina tenants more promptly so paying customers can move in.
Grove Harbour Marina is on land owned by the City of Miami although it is privately developed. The developers must pay $300,000 in rent to the city for three years and a minimum $500,000 for the remaining 37 years on their lease.
Because the Pan American hangars are a designated historical site, work has taken longer than expected. Mr. Lima said he was not able to find blueprints for the building so it is difficult to locate the plumbing system and he sometimes finds surprises hidden under the buildings.
"We've experienced a lot of problems because this building is 50 or 60 years old," Mr. Lima said. "We were digging the other day and found a pipe that fits one of the hydrants, and it was leaking water all over the place."
He said he and his son have faced tight restrictions on materials. For example, they had to make sure roof shingles are true to the period when the buildings were built, he said.
The development was tied up in a legal battle before 2002, when the Third District Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the marina. The Coconut Grove Civic Club, a homeowners association, sued, saying the development was too large for the waterfront and would not have enough parking.
The developers expect the marina to be running at full capacity by next year.
"By the end of the year, we should be operating at 100%," Mr. Lima said, "given that we don't find an Indian skeleton or something under one of these buildings."