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698 Residences proposed for Miami yacht basin


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Residences proposed for yacht basin

Susan Stabley

A proposed six-building, 698-unit residential development along the south shore of the Miami River would eliminate one of the last locations large enough to service and repair megayachts.

The site, known as the Florida yacht basin, has deep slips with the right length to accommodate larger vessels - ideal for a future business, marine industry proponents say.

But developer Merco Group International of Miami Beach snatched up the nine-acre site for $7.5 million in November 2003.

"It's very simple: It's been an industrial site for 14 years and it's been closed," said Merco Group spokesman Ben Benach, who added that his company would revamp the deteriorating facility into a more modern marina.

Led by Homero Meruelo, Merco Group resurrected the White Diamond project on Miami Beach as the Akoya condominium, in February bought the historic Deauville Hotel where the Beatles performed and the Rat Pack played, and plans condominiums in Aventura and West Palm Beach.

For the river site, at 1583 N.W. 24th Ave., the company proposes Brisas del Rio, a mix of apartments, flats and two-story townhomes, a public river walk and 10,000 square feet of commercial space that would include a marine supply shop for passing boaters. Three towers would rise to 21 stories. A water taxi stop would be built. Units would be from 800 square feet to 1,600 square feet and priced from $185,000 to $350,000.

For all this, a portion of the boat slips would be filled in, prompting concern from some.

Because of the manatee protection laws, "once a slip is gone, it's gone forever," said Bud Morton, president of Miami River Marine Group and general manager for recycling plant FPT Florida.

Recommended as repair facility

The yacht basin site had been recommended for use as a megayacht repair and mooring facility, according to a comprehensive redevelopment plan from the Miami River Commission, an advocacy group created by the state Legislature in 1998 to act as a clearinghouse for river issues.

That would tie into plans by Turkish developer Flagstone Property Group for a hotel, retail and marina complex geared for megayachts scheduled to begin construction mid-2005 on a manmade isle off the MacArthur Causeway.

"This site is one of only a few with the physical infrastructure and geographic proximity to Watson Island to serve this purpose," the river commission plan stated.

For the development to move forward, it will require Miami city commissioners to approve zoning and land-use changes and a special development permit called a MUSP. Merco Group plans to go before the city in January.

A flurry of rezonings of industrial property into residential threatens the river's $4 billion-a-year industry and more than 8,000 jobs, warns Dick Bunnell, president of Bunnell Foundation, a marine engineering and foundation contractor.

Meanwhile, work has begun clearing the 5.5-mile river to depths of 15 feet and potentially reviving the waterway's commercial components.

"It's a whole different game now because of the dredging," said Fran Bohnsack, executive director of the Miami River Marine Group.

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  • 5 months later...

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I know its good to bring in people,but if its

one of the last locations large enough to service and repair megayachts
then they shouldnt change it.

Residents are good but money has to flow,too.I think they should leave it,and remodel it (if they have to) to become more advanced,and have more desirable business.

But I cant do nothing,so....

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