Superyachts move closer to a bigger home as Fort Lauderdale launches Las Olas Marina project – Sun Sentinel

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Although Fort Lauderdale has always welcomed luxury vessels to the city’s extensive network of waterways, the “yachting capital of the world” has often been a difficult place for a superyacht captain to find a place to dock.

But now the space problem is about to ease as the city began construction last week on the Las Olas Marina, which would provide coxswains with 7,000 new linear feet of dock, a building of three-story marine services and a 15,000 square foot, two-story upscale restaurant with alfresco dining.

The project is designed specifically to provide access to superyachts, those vessels over 80 feet long.

The $70 million project, which is expected to be completed by 2024, is being built and financed by Dallas-based Suntex Marinas, a nationwide developer and operator of marinas in Florida and 11 other states. The site is just north of Las Olas Boulevard on the east side of the Intracoastal Waterway. It served as a municipal parking lot for years.

Ultimately, the marina will be closely aligned with Birch Road, which runs north to south, and local residents will be able to dine in the restaurants and have access to jogging trails.

On Thursday, officials from the city, Broward County and Suntex gathered for a waterfront ribbon-cutting with a number of nearby condo tower residents who have been keeping a close eye on marina planning.

“It’s been a while to come,” Mayor Dean Trantalis said. “The City of Fort Lauderdale really tried to figure out what was the best thing to do for this site. It will be an incredible reimagining of this corner of our city.

It will also provide a significant expansion of space for the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, where superyachts are a major draw and whose annual exhibit draws thousands of boaters and vendors to the city in more than half a year. dozen places. Most large yachts visit the Bahia Mar Yachting Center or the Pier Sixty-Six Marina.

“We need more space for bigger boats,” Trantalis said. “It’s amazing how many new boats are being built and how much longer and bigger they are getting. Since we are the yachting capital of the world, we want to continue to be able to accommodate the industry as we have done over these many years.

In an interview, David Filler, head of acquisitions and development at Suntex, said the company could have designed the marina for smaller boats. But he said people in the public and private sectors saw the need to create a place for the bigger ships.

“They requested that we focus on the design and development of a marina primarily serving the mega-yacht market,” he said. “That’s what they wanted.”

Generally speaking, the “superyacht” category relates to vessels 80 feet in length and above. But nowadays buyers want to think bigger, opting for yachts over 100 or 120 feet.

Last fall, international yacht broker Fraser, which had agents at the Fort Lauderdale show, said 2021 was its “best year”, with sales of yachts 80ft and over up 110.3% compared to the previous year.

“It’s really a supply and demand situation that we’re trying to resolve,” Filler said. “There are a lot more holds available for smaller boats.

“A lot of people rent houses and you can put a 60 or 80 foot boat behind a house,” he added. “It’s much harder to find a house to support the moorings of a 100ft boat.”

The final version of the project is an offshoot of a request for proposals issued by the city in 2016. The city made the request after rejecting a proposal several years earlier that called for a more densely populated mixed-use project focusing on commercial enterprises and a tower.

Suntex won the job and signed a long-term lease in 2017, then embarked on “four years of licensing and design”.

City Commissioner Steven Glassman, whose District 2 includes the neighborhood, credited the company with listening carefully to nearby condo tower residents who are members of the Central Beach Alliance. They didn’t just get the town’s approval and vanish. They are there until the end.

“People have been fighting and speaking out for a long time for what they wanted at this site,” Glassman said at the groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday. “Without your input, we wouldn’t have the project we have today.”

Laughingly, he joked, “When you sign up and join the Central Beach Alliance, there’s a question on the app that says, ‘Are you shy? If you say “yes”, you are automatically disqualified from joining the Central Beach Alliance. No one in this organization is afraid to have an opinion, to let you know what that opinion is, and to repeat that opinion as often as possible so that you get that opinion.

In the end, the residents of the tower got what they wanted.

“Where once all these buildings and all the people in these buildings despised the asphalt, partied at night and smashed the kids’ glass and beer bottles on A1A, now they’ll look outside and think they’re in Monaco “, says Glassman.

According to Trantalis, here are some expected economic and financial benefits of the Las Olas Marina project:

Jobs: Over 650 during construction, 1,110 full-time positions after completion.

Economic impact (annual): $221 million

National and local tax revenue (annual): $6 million

Property taxes: (annual) Nearly $500,000

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