North America's largest and most influential boat show is set to undergo some major changes.
The Bahia Mar complex on the Fort Lauderdale waterfront, which hosts the annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, is set for a $1 billion overhaul.
The event is a longstanding tradition among major manufacturers who not only gather to sell to the public, but it's also a major venue for announcing new products.
Additions to the waterfront complex include four new condo towers, a marine village with bars and restaurants, a 23-floor luxury hotel, and a waterfront promenade. The project is slated for 801 Seabreeze Boulevard, half a mile south of Las Olas Boulevard.
The Bahia Mar redevelopment will also include seven acres of waterfront boat-show space and a new megayacht marina.
The four condo towers are set to be 21 stories apiece and will each house 350 units. The luxury hotel is planned for 23 stories boasting 256 rooms and 60 luxury condos.
The marina village, which will include various restaurants and bars, is currently allocated to run along the A1A promenade. The promenade itself is set to be 7 metres wide (25 feet) and 800 metres long (0.5 miles). It will be adjacent to a 1.25 acre park overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway.
Construction for the project is estimated at 15 years, with a total cost exceeding $1 billion USD. As part of the plan, it's expected to generate over $15 million USD per year in new taxes. The land has belonged to taxpayers since 1947, but has been leased to private companies since 1962. One of the underlying pressures surrounding the redevelopment is that the existing lease did not generate significant tax income, only about $1.7 million per year.
Commissioner Steve Glassman, whose district contains Bahia Mar, has dealt with significant pushback from the public on the matter going back to 2017 when the new lease was first approved for developer Jimmy Tate. His company, Tate Capital, is based in Fort Lauderdale and received a 100-year lease to oversee the project.
In an interview with WLRN Miami, Glassman said: "I just wanted to assure people who seem to be disappointed that I'm supporting this, that I did not do this just out of the blue. I did it because the improvements are significant.”
A town council meeting on June 6th brought more than a dozen residents to voice their disagreement.
Primary concerns among local residents were construction debris going into the Intracoastal Waterway, lane and road closures due to continual construction over the next 15 years, and the inevitable buildup of traffic during construction and after the project is complete.
"The project is already going to abuse our public land with the size, the traffic nightmare, the construction mess, the lane closures, the landlocked emergency vehicles, I see no benefit for the the residence in Fort Lauderdale," said resident Lisa Malcolm, who lives in Harbor Inlet, to WLRN Miami.
Fort Lauderdale mayor Dean Trantalis added: "It’s moving in the right direction and while it’s not a perfect site plan for everybody’s expectations and needs, we definitely have brought it to a point where I think we can allow it to be built and allow it to be part of our barrier island and our beautiful beach experience."
The city had already agreed to the 2017 plan proposed by Tate which included the aforementioned developments. However, the 2017 plan also interfered with FLIBS, while the new plan has allocations for the show's needs.
Meanwhile, another major development for FLIBS has been completed before the Bahia Mar projects begins.
The new Port 32 Fort Lauderdale Marina, was opened last week on the "Marina Mile" on the New River west of I-95.
The new development has space for 32 large yachts inside a 3-acre basin, with another 278 slips for smaller boats up to 55-feet in length. There are also berthing options for vessels up to 180-feet long. The facility boasts full-service amenities for boaters, captains, and crew, including 28,000 square feet of commercial space, a fuel dock, fitness center, conference rooms, and a 150-ton travelift that can raise vessels up to 120-feet long. It also has 'hurricane dockage' slips that are insurance approved and are designed to withstand 175 mph winds.
The new Port 32 Fort Lauderdale will become a major hub of activity when FLIBS returns from October 25-29th, 2023.