Watson Marina Moves Forward Youth Museum Conditions Set
Written by Catherine Lackner on November 2, 2000
By Catherine Lackner
Miami city commissioners are setting the stage for a mega-yacht marina on Watson Island while hinting at acceptable conditions for a youth museum on the 88-acre islet.
Assistant City Manager Dena Bianchino said as early as next month commissioners will consider marine-related proposals that could make better use of land on the northwest quadrant of the island, an area she called "severely under-utilized.
"There’s nothing to bring people to it," she said. "We have a vision for this project — it’s one of the most spectacular parcels of land in the US. Not many cities have something like this."
The goal, she said, is a marina on 10.8 acres that would cater to vessels of 80 to 120 feet.
Development must stay within guidelines set by the state in 1949 when it deeded Watson to Miami. Commercial uses need voter approval, must serve a "public purpose" and keep access to the water open.
Because the northwest parcel is zoned commercial while Watson is generally zoned recreational park, uses other than a marina can be included. Ms. Bianchino said the city will restrict use to "marine, entertainment, recreational, cultural and retail."
"We’re not capitalizing on the marine industry," said Commissioner Joe Sanchez. "We’re losing millions to Fort Lauderdale — and these are recurring revenues."
"Fort Lauderdale’s mega-yacht marina is full," Commissioner Willy Gort said. "Miami needs one."
Meanwhile, Ms. Bianchino said, the city is asking the youth museum for evidence of funding — "the key question is, does the museum pay rent?"
"I would never sign a $1-a-year lease," Commissioner Joe Sanchez said. "The gravy train has stopped. They’ll have to pay rent; probably $1,000-$1,500 per month."