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Front Page » Top Stories » Developer Says Popular Fish Markets Will Be A Part Of Watson Island

Developer Says Popular Fish Markets Will Be A Part Of Watson Island

Written by on May 22, 2003

By Susan Stabley
The chairman of the company developing Watson Island told the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce last week that his project would include two popular fish markets, but an attorney for the markets said Friday that the issue is not resolved.

"They will continue to be a part of Watson Island – its history and its future," said Mehmet Bayraktar of Flagstone Properties, which is developing the $281 million Island Gardens project.

Casablanca and de Armas Pescaderia fish markets have been battling for eight years to stay on the island. Flagstone plans to build two high-end hotels, shops, restaurants and a megayacht marina on the northwest quadrant of the island where the markets now operate.

The City of Miami must move the fish markets off the site to make way for Flagstone’s project.

"I was under the impression they had no interest in us any more," said the fish markets’ attorney, Victor Rone. "I can’t get them to come to an agreement."

John Petricola, a manager with Flagstone, said Friday that his company is not going to get involved in negotiations between the city and the fish markets.

"The issue is the temporary location of the fish markets before we are able to provide them with a location," said Mr. Petricola, "and that issue has to be resolved between them and the city. We have an obligation in the lease to provide a fish market – which we are excited and eager to do."

Parrot Jungle Island General Manager Barbara Ibarra, Miami Children’s Museum Executive Director Debbie Spiegelman, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau CEO William Talbert III and Mr. Bayraktar briefed a chamber breakfast crowd Thursday on their plans for their four separate developments on the island.

Mr. Bayraktar said tax revenues from his project would total $24 million during slow years and as much as $80 million if business booms.

The Miami Children’s Museum home is a $25 million, 60,000-square-foot building set to open in September. The museum will create 54 jobs and contribute about $1.8 million, said Ms. Spiegelman.

Parrot Jungle Island hopes to draw 1 million people during its first year of operation, said Ms. Ibarra. With 91,000 cars traveling each day over the MacArthur Causeway, which bisects Watson Island, and the ability to pull in school students and cruisers, she said, "we think those numbers are achievable."

Ms. Ibarra said the park is to open by June 28.

The cost of the Parrot Jungle Island project has been reported at $47 million, but Ms. Ibarra said there has been close to $100 million invested in the lush theme park, which began as a roadside attraction in 1936 in Pinecrest.

The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, in conjunction with city and the Miami Sports & Exhibition Authority, is to build and operate the $11.7 million Watson Island Regional Aviation & Visitors Center with offices, heliport and seaplane airstrip and a press center on more than 5 acres.