An Island of Dreams

Most of the coverage of Mehmet Bayraktar’s Island Gardens development has come in snippets. A lot of it has dealt with the delays in bringing the $1 billion mega-yacht marina complex with residences, hotels and restaurants to fruition since it was first envisioned in 2001. Many of the stories have been journalistic “gotchas” that made it sound like there was a foreign investor who wasn’t living up to his obligations. Our cover story this issue, however, has another point of view: Bayraktar is a lesson in resolve and persistence.


The concept is finally coming to life with the opening of the mega-yacht marina at Island Gardens. It will be a new venue for the Yachts Miami Beach show, which is covered this issue along with the Miami International Boat Show.


Why should business readers care about mega-yachts? The marine industry is a key pillar of the local economy and one that symbolizes the South Florida lifestyle. Each yacht that pays a visit has the potential to pump thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, into the local economy with provisioning, refurbishing and spending ashore. Unfortunately, slips large enough to handle these mega-yachts are in short supply. The rest of Bayraktar’s projects provides the amenities that uber-wealthy yacht owners expect ashore.


The Bayraktar family’s business history is impressive along with its experience in developing major projects in Turkey, including the first modern shopping mall. It’s already done a project similar to Island Gardens.

Transportation transformation

Our January issue provided an overview of rail mass transit expansion in South Florida. This issue talks about the myriad opportunities to take advantage of it.


My crystal ball predicts that All Aboard Florida President Mike Reininger is correct when he says employers will be willing to pay a premium to be in transit-oriented developments. Millennials, in particular, are more oriented toward Uber and mass transit. You can be a lot more productive on your laptop than being stuck in traffic at the Golden Glades.


There are a growing number of potential development sites, not only for the Tri-Rail Coastal Link, but also for commuter service on tracks that go west of Miami International Airport.


I’m pleasantly surprised about just how much support there is for Tri-Rail’s expansion. Something not covered in the first part of the series is the Tri-Rail Downtown Miami Link, which will be relatively inexpensive to start. That and All Aboard Florida should propel momentum for the Coastal Link build-out.


Even if you plan to stick with your car, you should be happy about getting some of the other drivers off the road and providing regional mobility for future growth.


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