Flagstone sues city of Miami over $1B Watson Island project

Suit was filed one day after commissioners declared the developer in default of a 99-year ground lease

Rendering of Island Gardens. Inset: Mehmet Bayraktar
Rendering of Island Gardens. Inset: Mehmet Bayraktar

Flagstone Property Group has filed $122 million lawsuit against the city of Miami.

The suit was filed one day after commissioners unanimously declared the developer in default of a 99-year ground lease that would allow Flagstone to build its luxury hotel and marina complex, and claims the city breached agreements with the developer causing them to lose millions in investments, according to the Miami Herald.

“As a proximate cause of, and but for the city’s breach of the agreements, Flagstone incurred compensatory damages of more than $122 million in investment, loss of its expected profits, and loss of the more than $3.6 billion in expected value Flagstone created in the project,” reads the lawsuit, filed on behalf of Flagstone by attorney Eugene Stearns of Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alahadeff & Sitterson.

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The complaint asks a Miami-Dade judge to void an “invented” declaration by the city that Flagstone defaulted on its $1 billion project, led by Turkish businessman Mehmet Bayraktar, which has been in the works for more than 15 years now and has yet to break ground.

The long-planned project on Watson Island that would span 24 acres off the MacArthur Causeway drew more attention over the years after Bayraktar continuously kept pushing deadlines. In 2010, the city granted the developer another three years to build after a missed deadline, in exchange for $1.5 million to secure the rights.

Flagstone is now asking Miami officials to keep allowing it to make related payments to the state to keep the project viable. It’s also asking city officials to approve a modified project design and an extension on a permit allowing for the ongoing use of its marina. [Miami Herald] – Amanda Rabines