Nearly eight years ago, Miami voters approved a plan to build a marina on the island, owned by the city of Miami. After several years of planning and filing for permits, Flagstone Property Group, the developer, released details for the project, dubbed Island Gardens, in 2006. Besides two luxury hotels and a shopping complex, the firm envisioned 50 slips capable of handling superyachts in excess of 450 feet, making the marina the only one in the United States dedicated solely to this market. Completion was anticipated for 2010.
Changes in design as well as lawsuits filed to prevent the development from occurring delayed matters. Once those were resolved, ground was expected to be broken for Island Gardens in the fall of 2007, but it didn’t happen, apparently due to more permitting difficulties. A total of three extensions were filed over the years by the developer and approved by the city, and finally last fall, dredging began.
If all continues to go well, construction on the marina should begin this fall. A week ago, Flagstone Property Group received a five-year extension for the construction stage from city commissioners, who also ruled the firm must take over the lease on the 11-acre site in June. The new extension was granted so that Flagstone Property Group can obtain financing to build the retail shops, a hotel and residences managed by Shangri-La, as well as another hotel to be managed by an undisclosed firm. The marina will offer the usual amenities such as fresh water, electricity, cable, and phone, in addition to concierge services, in-slip fueling, Internet access, security cameras, and a pet-friendly policy. Both it and the Shangri-La hotel will open in 2012.
There is a caveat tied to the latest extension, however: If financing isn’t obtained by June 2011, the city reserves the right to take over the marina development and solicit new bids for the land.
With so many obstacles along the way, you may wonder why the city of Miami issued extensions. One big reason is certainly tourism dollars. According to Flagstone Property Group’s Web site, a report that PriceWaterhouseCoopers prepared for the city in 2001 reveals that megayacht owners spend about 41 percent of their yacht’s annual operating budget in port.
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