The Real Deal Miami

Watson Island project clears state hurdle

Florida Cabinet allows long-delayed development to move forward
May 14, 2014 10:30AM

Watson Island

Watson Island

The developer of the long-delayed Island Gardens now has a clear path to finally starting the project planned for Miami’s Watson Island.

Members of the Florida Cabinet approved modifications to the deed for the city-owned island with no discussion. The vote allows developer Flagstone Property Group to break ground on the project, which includes a mega-yacht marina, retail center and two hotels. Flagstone is required to start construction by June 2 under its latest lease extension from the city.

State Cabinet members include Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Project opponents, including former Miami-based government consultant Stephen Herbits, asked the Cabinet to block the development, according to the Miami herald.

“It’s undeniably a giveaway of a prized public asset to generate huge profits for a private development while the city reaps very small rewards,” Herbits wrote in a letter.

Island Gardens was initially approved by Miami voters in 2001. The project languished after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and last decade’s recession. [Miami Herald]Eric Kalis