Island Plan Revival
Island Plan Revival
After more than 20 years of stalled development, a planned project on Watson Island — a publicly owned enclave between downtown Miami and South Beach — is in the hands of developers known for making big projects happen. In a joint venture, BH3 Management and Merrimac Ventures purchased the 75-year ground lease for the vacant 10.8-acre parcel on the island from Flagstone Property Group.
Merrimac Ventures is run by managing partners (and brothers) Nitin and Dev Motwani, while Fort Lauderdale-based BH3 is led by co-CEOs Gregory Freedman and Daniel Lebensohn.
The city of Miami leased the portion of Watson Island next to the Miami Children’s Museum to Flagstone in 2002. Years of litigation followed, but other than building a marina for mega yachts and a waterfront restaurant, the remainder of the mixed-used development didn’t materialize.
BH3 and Merrimac said they will start initial site work on the land, such as installing utilities and infrastructure, as they evaluate their development plans. Because the land is publicly owned, departures from the original development plan may require voter approval.
“Miami is synonymous with the water, and yet there are surprisingly few places where residents and visitors can access the waterfront,” Nitin Motwani says. “Our plans for Watson Island will be centered around public space and the site’s bayfront setting, offering some of the best views in all of Miami.”
- Developer Ugo Colombo of Miami-based CMC Group has broken ground on Vita at Grove Isle, a boutique condominium within a 20-acre gated island just offshore from Coconut Grove. The seven-story development on the island’s last available waterfront parcel is slated for completion in 2025. Residences will start at $5.5 million, penthouses at $12 million.
- Miami-based real estate investment and development company Integra Investments has completed Wrecker’s Cay Apartments on Stock Island. With 280 units, it’s the largest workforce housing community in the Florida Keys in more than 50 years.
- Chicago-based Trilogy Real Estate Group has proposed a 33-story residential and retail building in Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood, to be named Residence 23.
- Lotus House, the nation’s largest women and children’s shelter, received a $1-million donation from fashion model and philanthropist Gisele Bündchen for a new playground and programming at the facility. The non-profit recently broke ground on a new Children's Village, which is being financed with a $27-million construction loan from U.S. Bank and $5 million in new markets tax credits.
- Four tech startups from Miami were selected to participate in the 20-company AWS Impact Accelerator Latino Founders Cohort, a $30-million business and technical mentorship program created to support under-represented tech founders. Selected were: Clockout, a banking technology firm that enables users to have instant access to their daily earnings; EducUp, an education technology startup; Lazo, a cloud-based products platform that provides guidance to users on their taxes, accounting and finance; and Mondadd, a service and subscription management software that discovers services linked to residences and allows residents to manage them. Latino founders have received less than 2.5% of venture capital raised since 2015, according to Crunchbase.
- The Florida Keys & Key West are streaming Florida- KeysTV, a free, on-demand channel showcasing the island chain’s culture, cuisine, fishing, diving, ecotourism, parks and other travel information.
- The Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Florida International University and its director, Brian Van Hook, won the 2023 National Small Business Week SBDC Excellence and Innovation Award. Consultants at the center assist with access to capital, investment business plans, government contracting and more.
- AmePower founders Karina Doracio and Luis Contreras were named Florida's Small Business Persons of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration for designing high-power energy converters that support sustainable development. AmePower is a family-run firm with an engineering and manufacturing facility in Miami.
- LATAM Airlines Group has become the first approved operator in Miami International Airport's Foreign Trade Zone magnet site, allowing it to move eligible products between MIA and Chile without paying federal import taxes.
- The University of Miami College of Engineering is launching a consortium of academic, industry and government partners to develop the next-generation electric vertical takeoff/landing (eVTOL) air vehicles — flying cars, essentially. Participants include industry leaders Eve Air Mobility and Aeroauto, as well as Ryder System and the Beacon Council. The consortium aims to advance autonomous mobility technology and anticipate challenges to implementation in cities, addressing how the new class of air vehicles can be used in shipping goods and moving people.