Miami Plans Island Home for Mega-Yachts

Island Gardens project

The $480 million Island Gardens project (artist's rendering) on Miami's Watson Island would include a 50-slip mega-yacht marina capable of handling boats up to 465 feet long. Flagstone Property Group hide caption

itoggle caption Flagstone Property Group
Fort Lauderdale's Sunset Harbor Marina i i

Fort Lauderdale's Sunset Harbor Marina is a model for what's envisioned for Miami's Watson Island. Dock fees for mega-yachts at Sunset Harbor can run close to $1,000 per day. Greg Allen, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Greg Allen, NPR
Fort Lauderdale's Sunset Harbor Marina

Fort Lauderdale's Sunset Harbor Marina is a model for what's envisioned for Miami's Watson Island. Dock fees for mega-yachts at Sunset Harbor can run close to $1,000 per day.

Greg Allen, NPR

The last several years have been excellent for the yacht industry. There's a worldwide boom, particularly in the construction of mega-yachts — boats 100 feet and longer. But it's not all smooth sailing for millionaire mariners. There's a shortage of docks big enough to handle these luxury liners, and nowhere is that crunch felt more than in South Florida.

In the area's marinas and canals, yachts 200 feet, 300 feet, even 400 feet long are not unusual. They can command prices over $50 million. Even at that price, there's a shortage of boats — and a shortage of places to keep them.

"There's just so many of them being built and there's just nowhere in South Florida to put them all," says Dave Culver, manager at Fort Lauderdale's Sunrise Harbor Marina. "They have to call months ahead to even get a spot here."

A project approved by Miami voters five years ago is designed to help ease the shortage.

Developer Mehmet Bayraktar plans to build a $480 million complex on Watson Island, located in the shadow of downtown in Biscayne Bay. The centerpiece would be a 50-slip mega-yacht marina capable of handling boats up to 465 feet long. The development would also include two high-rise hotel towers, shopping and restaurant space, a museum and a park.

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