Miami gets rent due on Watson Island development site
By Risa Polansky
Watson Island developer Flagstone Property Group has made good on $100,000 in June and July back rent to the City of Miami.
Chair and CEO Mehmet Bayraktar says work continues on the voter-approved luxury marina and hotel complex long planned for the island, though he did not say whether he expects to get August's $83,000 rent in on time.
"I'm not talking details," Mr. Bayraktar said Monday when asked. "I expect to finish this project as we promised back in 2001."
And for about $200 million less than a planned $640 million.
The company had a top-tier bank lined up for construction loans, said Mr. Bayraktar, who said he has poured about $54 million into the project.
"But the bad news is because of the market [turmoil] our lead lenders… they couldn't ever get to the market to do the syndication," he said. "The good news is that because we didn't get started now, we are going to be saving 25% to 35% less of the investment costs."
With building costs down in a ravaged economy, Flagstone is retooling numbers.
"Everything is basically ready to go except basically revising the numbers and going back to the market with much lower investment costs," he said.
The developer has until Feb. 1 to enter into a ground lease with Miami and to do so must cement financing, among other prerequisites, said city Real Estate Manager Aldo Bustamante.
Last week's rent payments have officials hopeful.
It could mean "they may be getting ready to get something to us at this point," Mr. Bustamante said.
A determined Mr. Bayraktar said that's the plan, but he can't offer guarantees.
"That's what we are working on, to revise everything to move forward," he said. But "I cannot promise anything that is beyond my personal control or my company's control."