Could the future of the Ft Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS) be in doubt now that developers have dropped plans to re model the Bahia Mar complex on which the show is staged?
The thought that FLIBS could continue without the city site is as unthinkable as the Monaco Yacht Show without Port Hercule
For the developers Tate Capital CEO James Tate suggests in a public letter that his company is pulling out because Show Management, which manages FLIBS, and MIASF, which owns the show involved have “lost track of the vision” of the redevelopment plan.
For the show, Phil Purcell, MIASF executive director, and Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist III, president of Show Management, said the objective is, and always has been, to produce an outstanding annual boat show that is a great asset to South Florida,” the statement said.
What they failed to state and have not yet commented on is whether or not the show would remain in Ft Lauderdale.
Initial plans, proposed in July 2015 and announced to the press at the last FLIBS, was not without critics. The original plan called for two 39-floor apartment tower blocks, parking for over 2,000 vehicles, public walkway, upgraded marina, new hotel, waterfront park, and permanent event space for the boat show on the city-owned property. After protests the height of the tower blocks was lowered to 29 storeys and more open spaces were added, but protests against the plans have continued.
Fort Lauderdale City officials are keen for the show to continue in their doamian and had been insisting on a 30-year lease for the boat show to keep it located in the city if only because of the economic impact of US$500m, the show is said to bring with it.
In a statement given to the South Florida Business Journal, developers insist that “At the end of the day, you can’t develop something where you’re going to lose money.” They added that “the proposed lease terms and conditions being demanded by Show Management and the Marine Industry Association of South Florida are not even close to being fair and equitable.”
Where this now leaves the boat show is far from clear. The developers hold a 46-year lease on the city-owned property, while those who operate the boat show have a lease that extends until 2020.