Miami Dade County Community Forum

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Watson Island Developer Wants More Time

Flagstone developer Mehmet Bayraktar is asking the City of Miami for more time to finance the project on Watson Island. He offered the City $500,000 to cover back rent. It will be discussed today by the City of Miami Commission.

Years back, the Urban Environment League protested the development as it was slated for public land. A citizen referendum approved the project. After the vote, the UEL was able to get some concessions. An agreement between UEL and Flagstone was signed, sanctioned by the County Commission, to allow UEL to monitor and report on their public access commitments, based on progress during implementation.

The Miami Herald said, referring to Bayraktar's letter:

The letter does not say how much more time Bayraktar wants. It says the developer has all the permits needed to start building but still lacks construction dollars for the effort. As part of an extension deal, according to the letter, Bayraktar would open Flagstone's books to show the company spent $46 million on the project, which Miami voters approved in a November 2001 referendum.

Would it be to the advantage of the City to deny the extension and reclaim the land for public use, and get rid of the development altogether? Commissioner Sarnoff doesn't think so, according to the Herald:

Marc Sarnoff, chairman of the City Commission, said he's skeptical of giving Bayraktar a lengthy extension but wants wants Miami to consider his offer. The project owes more than $400,000 in rent, Sarnoff said, and pays about $90,000 a month -- making the lease particularly valuable given Miami's dire budget squeeze.

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