Real Estate News

Watson Island super-yacht marina to open by year’s end

Dredging and construction work on the mega-yacht marina, mall and hotel project on Watson Island in 2014
Dredging and construction work on the mega-yacht marina, mall and hotel project on Watson Island in 2014 MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Looking for a place to park your mega-yacht?

Fear not: A new marina on Watson Island designed to hold 50 yachts up to 550 feet long will open in time for the first week of Art Basel in early December, developer Flagstone Property Group said Tuesday.

The deep-water marina is part of a planned, mixed-use development called Island Gardens that has drawn criticism from locals concerned about traffic. The approximately $1 billion project will include two luxury hotels, a residential building, upscale restaurants and a luxury shopping center, developers say, although they are still working to acquire financing for the residential and retail components.

Those portions of the project are scheduled to open in 2017 and 2018.

Publicly owned Watson Island, connected to the beach and downtown by the MacArthur Causeway and home to the Miami Children’s Museum, also sports a seaplane base and a heliport that provide a link to the Caribbean and nearby airports. The new marina will have its own customs and immigration office.

Flagstone founder Mehmet Bayraktar said the project will stimulate economic activity and generate tax revenue for the city.

“The greatest cities have all kinds of people from all walks of life and all income levels,” Bayraktar said. “That’s what makes them great cities. You need somebody to pay the bills.”

Bayraktar said many of the yachts will be charters with weekly rates starting at $50,000 and going as high as $500,000.

“You want these people shopping in your city and bringing their friends to visit,” Bayraktar said.

He also announced several firms that would handle work on the project.

The architectural firm Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolfe & Associates will design the master plan. Coastal Construction Group of South Florida will handle construction. And Cervera Real Estate will sell the residential units, which will have an unusual twist: Buyers will have the option to purchase the units for only part of the year.

“I wouldn’t call it a timeshare,” said Alicia Cervera Lamadrid, the firm’s managing partner. “It’s like buying a condo, just not for twelve months. You own it when you use it.”

Voters originally approved the development in a 2001 referendum but construction didn’t begin until 2014. Developers blamed the delay on 9/11 and the economic downturn.

The project hasn’t been popular with some neighbors. A judge recently dismissed a lawsuit brought by a group of Venetian island residents trying to stop construction. The plaintiffs, who argued the project would cause traffic jams near their neighborhood, have appealed.

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