In a major update, the Daily Business Review has reported that Mehmet Bayraktar’s Flagstone Group is aggressively moving forward with plans for Island Gardens. The plan, which includes 11 acres of public land and 13 acres of submerged land, has ruffled quite a few feathers at the City of Miami Beach due to transportation issues, but the City of Miami seems intent on ensuring the project rise from under-utilized Watson Island.
Expected to be fully completed by 2010, the project entails only the second Shangri-La Hotel in the U.S. as well as a Westin Hotel. The project also includes a marina for super-yachts (100 ft. & over). According to the DBR article, Mehmed is not concerned with the stagnant condo market stating that Island Gardens includes no condo units. I see what the Turkish Billionaire is saying. He’s got two major anchors and a plan for the first major marina of its kind in the city. This is not to mention, of course, a lease on what is arguably the most iconic and conspicuous parcel of land in the entire city.
To summarize, Flagstone has:
- Secured 35% of the funding needed
- Signed term sheets with two major U.S. banking institutions (anticipating a closing by the end of this year)
- Been negotiating with an alternate institutional investor group
- Received its environmental permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the South Florida Water Management District, and Miami-Dade County
According to the DBR report, the “developer has permission to begin dredging the section of the bay south of the MacArthur Causeway” for the purpose of infilling the submerged land. Construction is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2008.
Island Gardens is a monumental development in that it will attract attention from all over the world. Miami, no stranger to publicity but in the midst of a housing slump, can use the positive attention. Although the project will probably be beneficial to the City in the long run, it will partially block the skyline’s view (from the MacArthur), create a traffic problem on the causeway, and only allocates
100 1000 feet of the public land for promenade use. Still, Island Gardens will further raise the bar in Miami’s luxury hotel market, add jobs to the economy, increase the City’s revenue, and lure obscenely wealthy visitors into Miami. Looks like Mr. Mehmed has become my favorite Turkish billionaire.
Map: City of Miami’s Watson Island Plans