10-years into Miami's mega-yacht marina deal, no action
By Patricia Hoyos
Despite overcoming its final Miami commission hurdle last September, the Flagstone Development Group won't break ground on its long-planned mega-yacht complex on Watson Island until late this year, said Brian May, lobbyist for Flagstone.
"We're still taking our time," he said.
"Everything is moving along well," Mr. May added. "There's a lot of interest in the site and in the property."
The Island Gardens complex, which is to rise on the city-owned island, is to encompass a luxury hotel, retail and a 50-slip mega-yacht harbor for vessels longer than 80 feet.
Flagstone is currently in talks with brand-name hotels and potential retailers, Mr. May said.
On the financing side, he said, the development group is looking for the best terms it can find from equity partners and debt financing partners.
Also impeding the start of construction is work at the Port of Miami. Mr. May said port tunnel contractors are taking up space on Flagstone's portion of Watson Island, "so there's not a lot that we can do."
Years behind schedule, the project was originally approved back in 2001 but has gotten stalled after it lost lenders and hotel operators.
Miami commissioners approved a 75-year lease of the city-owned property with Flagstone the same year and a major use special permit in 2004.
In 2010, the city commission agreed on construction terms and a timeline. Also in 2010, the state approved the project, consent needed because the planned Island Gardens sits on land the state gave to Miami in 1949 for public use, meaning any commercial use required state approval.
Most recently, last September the Miami City Commission gave the project a final OK by approving a state waiver for commercial development on Watson Island. Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones opposed the development.
Although no gambling component has been proposed for the complex, if Flagstone decided down the line to add a casino to the complex if resort gaming were approved, it would require city commission approval.
Construction work on the mega-yacht marina and hotel complex is expected to create 3,000 jobs, Mr. May said last September, out of which Flagstone is committed to hiring 40% local workers.
Commission Vice Chairman Marc Sarnoff has said the marina can recreate a maritime industry that existed here and has left for Broward County.
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