Operators Of Watson Island Hotels Could Be Named Soon
By Suzy Valentine
Operators of two hotels forming part of a mixed-use marina project on Watson Island could be named in as little as three weeks, says a spokeswoman for the developer.
Flagstone Property Group has planned two hotels – one a five-star luxury property and the second for business travelers – as part of its $426 million Island Gardens development.
"We plan to name the operators soon," said Elizabeth Mather, "most likely in the fall."
The hotels are to provide 480 rooms while the luxury property offers 105 timeshare units the developer describes as "fractional residences."
There is to be 221,000 square feet of retail space – including 36,000 square feet or 2,000 seats of dining – and 1,600 parking spaces.
There are to be 50 slips for mega-yachts or vessels larger than 100 feet that can exceed 450 feet in length.
Flagstone Property Group is partnering with Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables to landscape the property using water features and sculpture while it is working with downtown’s Historical Museum of Southern Florida on constructing a permanent maritime history exhibit.
The developer has commissioned three Miami artists to create pieces for the property. They are Jose Bedia, Michele Oka Doner and Maria Martinez-Canas.
When the project can break ground is yet to be determined.
State-level approval and lawsuits brought by two Miami Beach residents have hampered development of the retail-hotel-marina development.
In 2001, the City of Miami awarded Flagstone Property Group a 75-year ground lease ratified by voters in a referendum that year.
In July 2004, the city commission approved a Major Use Special Permit for the development.
On Aug. 9, 2004, Stephen Herbits and Robert Zimmerman filed complaints contesting the zoning approval. The parties are still awaiting a decision from the 3rd District of the Court of Appeal.
Shubin & Bass and Shutts & Bowen, the law firms representing Flagstone Property Group, have submitted oral argument and are waiting for the court to hand down its decision. That could be any time – though decisions are always posted on Wednesdays.
The city has retained the services of Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart while city attorney Rafael Suarez-Rivas is handling the matter internally.
Meanwhile, the operator of Miami’s sole heliport closes on the island today (9/1). The operator, New Jersey-based Linden Airport Services Corp., is awaiting Federal Aviation Authority and state review of its planned move to a new site on the 86-acre island.
Pending approval, helicopters may land at Opa-locka or Tamiami airports.