Yacht maker pinched out by Aventura residential boom
By Claudio Mendonça
Aventura's booming real estate market is squeezing out some yacht manufacturers.
Because of high land prices and strict environmental and zoning issues, boat maker Magnum Marine, in business since 1976, is considering moving its plant from north Miami-Dade County to Central Florida. Known as Thunder Alley, Northeast 188th Street was once home to powerboat builders and related industries.
"Unfortunately, we will be out of Aventura. It is just a question of 'when'," said Katrin Theodoli, owner of Magnum Marine. "Land on the water in our region is becoming too expensive for manufacturing."
Ms. Theodoli said communities such as Aventura have become strictly residential, resulting in ballooning prices. Additionally, she said there is pressure from residents and developers for boat manufacturers to move industry out.
"Aventura doesn't want us anymore," said Ms. Theodoli. "In fact, most boat builders have already left."
In 2002, city officials rezoned 188th Street from industrial to medium-density residential at 35 units per acre.
According to the Beacon Council, one manufacturer that left Aventura this year was Cigarette Boats.
Despite moving out of Aventura, Cigarette didn't leave South Florida. Facing the same problems as Magnum Marine, Cigarette worked out an agreement with Miami-Dade County to remain in the area. As a result, the county was able to settle Cigarette in a 100,000-square-foot plant in Opa-locka.
"We found a nice, big facility so Cigarette can make their high-speed boats in Miami-Dade," said Carlos Leonard, assistant executive vice president for business development of the Beacon Council, Miami-Dade County's economic development agency. In addition to furnishing the site, the county is providing enterprise zone benefits, property tax abatements and assisting with permitting issues.
Enterprise zones are specific geographic area benefits targeted for economic revitalization, vying to encourage economic growth and investment in distressed areas. Benefits included are tax advantages and incentives to businesses locating within zone boundaries.
"It worked out nicely and they even found room to expand in the future," said Mr. Leonard.
Employing 108 people, Cigarette made a $2.5 million investment in its new facility in Opa-locka. In return, the company is hiring 15 employees in the next three years.
Mr. Leonard said the lack of a waterfront space is not a problem.
"They don't have to be near the water anymore," he said. "Whenever they need to do boat testing they take boats out and test them in the bay."
In addition to Cigarette, the Beacon Council said it also assisted boat manufacturer Ocean Spirit in finding a new home in Florida City.
"If we know a company needs assistance," Mr. Leonard said, "we reach out to come up with a solution to their problem."