Flagstone Island Gardens can develop on Watson Island, judge rules

Judge will determine damages against the city of Miami at a future hearing

TRD MIAMI /
Mar.March 23, 2018 01:41 PM

Rendering of Island Gardens with developer Mehmet Bayraktar

Mehmet Bayraktar, the Turkish developer behind a long-stalled $1 billion mega-yacht marina and resort project on Watson Island, just won a major court victory that will allow his firm to continue building the development.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge William Thomas on Thursday ruled in favor of Bayraktar’s Flagstone Island Gardens LLC on all counts related to lawsuits he filed last year against the city of Miami. After a seven-day non-jury trial, Thomas determined Miami elected officials breached a development contract with Flagstone when the city commission voted unanimously last May to declare the company in default because construction had not commenced on the $31 million parking garage and retail component phase of the project.

“The vision we have for this project is alive and well,” Bayraktar said in a statement. “And it will prove transformational for this great city now that we will have the opportunity to finish it. I have never lost sight of the goal or optimism about the result.”

Sam Dubbin, an attorney representing the Coalition Against Causeway Chaos, a group opposed to Flagstone’s project, declined comment because he had not read Thomas’ ruling or court testimony. Commissioner Ken Russell, who spearheaded the resolution to terminate the deal with Flagstone, said that the city has a strong case on appeal.

“It is clear Flagstone failed to live up to the promises made,” Russell said in an email. “The commission made the right decision and our case is very strong. We are confident to move forward with an appeal.”

Thomas’ ruling also faulted the city for not giving Flagstone time to cure the alleged default before demanding the developer vacate Watson Island. In 2016, Flagstone completed and began operating the megayacht marina, roughly 15 years after Miami voters approved a referendum allowing Bayraktar to build his project on Watson Island. In addition to the marina, the garage and the retail space, Flagstone is supposed to build two luxury hotels.

Thomas will determine damages against the city at a future hearing. Flagstone sued for $122 million, which is what Bayraktar claims is the amount he has invested in the project, which is situated on 24 acres of public waterfront land and submerged land. The developer claimed that preliminary excavation work that started in May 2017 constituted the groundbreaking for the garage and retail component, therefore Flagstone had met a construction deadline set in the lease agreement.

During a May 30, 2017 emergency meeting, commissioners voted 5-0 to declare Flagstone was in default. Mayor Francis Suarez, a commissioner at the time, said the developer had failed to demonstrate the financial ability to build the garage and retail phase on top of not commencing construction.

Flagstone’s attorney Eugene Stearns blamed the causeway coalition for providing commissioners with misleading information that led to their vote against Flagstone. “City leaders were misled by outside forces who turned political opposition into a combat sport,” Stearns said in a statement. “We are hopeful that a different light will dawn over city officials who will find ways to help make this important project successful for the city and its citizens.”


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
Phil Collins, Orianne Collins, and 5800 North Bay Road (Credit: Tim Chapman/Getty Images, and John Parra/Getty Images)

Phil Collins wants to sell his Miami Beach mansion for $40M, but his ex-wife won’t leave

Phil Collins wants to sell his Miami Beach mansion for $40M, but his ex-wife won’t leave
Harvey Hernandez and Cindy Diffenderfer (Patrick McMullan/Getty; iStock)

Harvey Hernandez’s former partner seeks to put NGD Homesharing in receivership

Harvey Hernandez’s former partner seeks to put NGD Homesharing in receivership
3187 Royal Road, Coconut Grove (Realtor)

Ransom Everglades sues developer Caroline Weiss over backyard boat dock

Ransom Everglades sues developer Caroline Weiss over backyard boat dock
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber and 1531 Stillwater Drive (Getty, Zillow)

Miami Beach slashes fines for illegal short-term rentals

Miami Beach slashes fines for illegal short-term rentals
Deauville Beach Resort

Deauville Beach Resort loses court battle tied to $400K judgment

Deauville Beach Resort loses court battle tied to $400K judgment
2120 Bay Avenue (Realtor)

Renter who sought to ride out pandemic in Miami Beach home sues owner, brokerage over alleged filthy conditions

Renter who sought to ride out pandemic in Miami Beach home sues owner, brokerage over alleged filthy conditions
The DoubleTree at 10250 Northwest 19th Street and Larry Beame (Credit: Google Maps)

Doral DoubleTree owner sues architect for $4M, alleging design errors

Doral DoubleTree owner sues architect for $4M, alleging design errors
Richard Chera of Crown Acquisitions, 947 Lincoln Road rendering

Lincoln Road landlord seeks $32M following court victory over Walgreens

Lincoln Road landlord seeks $32M following court victory over Walgreens
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...