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Miami tells Flagstone to beat it after developer files $122M lawsuit

Following a stunning Miami City Commission vote declaring Flagstone Island Gardens in default of its agreements to build a resort on publicly owned Watson Island, developer Mehmet Bayraktar has filed a $122 million lawsuit accusing the city of double-crossing its long-time business partner.

The city, in turn, sent a message Monday to the embattled developer: Turn over your keys and get off our property.

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Watson Island developer seeks $122M in damages against Miami for seeking to cancel lease

The developer of the Flagstone Island Gardens project on Watson Island has filed a lawsuit against the city of Miami, seeking $122 million in damages because the city threatened to cancel its lease.

Led by Mehmet Bayraktar, Flagstone Island Gardens LLC and Flagstone Development Corp. was selected by the city in 2002 to lease and develop a project on Watson Island, which is along the MacArthur Causeway on the way to Miami Beach. Work on the site stalled during the recession, plus several ultimately unsuccessful lawsuits from community activists opposed to the project.

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Flagstone sues city of Miami over $1B Watson Island project

Suit was filed one day after commissioners declared the developer in default of a 99-year ground lease

Flagstone Property Group has filed $122 million lawsuit against the city of Miami. The suit was filed one day after commissioners unanimously declared the developer in default of a 99-year ground lease that would allow Flagstone to build its luxury hotel and marina complex, and claims the city breached agreements with the developer causing them to lose millions in investments, according to the Miami Herald.

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Flagstone Sues The City

Last week the Flagstone Group went to court to challenge the default decision that the City Commission voted on last month at the Special Commission meeting.  A copy of the lawsuit can be found at the bottom of this story.

In addition to the lawsuit, leaks continue to come from inside City Hall about the going on behind the scenes, including additional examples of the failure of the city to oversee Flagstone Group failure to comply with the agreements .

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Miami sends default letter to Flagstone

Photo: Miami Herald David Smiley

Photo: Miami Herald David Smiley

Miami's city manager notified developer Mehmet Bayraktar Thursday morning that Flagstone Island Gardens is in default of its master agreement on Watson Island.

In a letter sent by certified mail, Alfonso said Flagstone had failed to secure a construction loan as required by an agreement to enter into ground lease before nailing down an upland lease, and had failed to meet a May 1 construction deadline. The letter does not explain what process Flagstone might have for challenging the declaration of default.

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Miami Wants To Take Back Watson Island Land From Flagstone

                                                         (Photo: The Next Miami) 

                                                         (Photo: The Next Miami) 

After 15 years, Miami is finally trying to take back the Island Gardens property on Watson Island from a lessee who never built what was promised.

At a special meeting last week, commissioners unanimously voted to direct the city manager to issue a notice of default to Turkish developer Flagstone.

Flagstone representatives said they could cure any default or sue the city. A lender would also have priority over the city, they said.

The city has lost millions in undervalued rent for the property since agreeing to lease the land 15 years ago, according to commissioner Ken Russell, who pushed for the vote. Flagstone was supposed to have built a mixed-use property including hotel and retail.

If a new RFP was issued for the property today, Russell said it should include a a multi-modal transit hub that connects and finances the Baylink and water taxis.

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Miami commission votes to cut ties with Island Gardens developer Mehmet Bayraktar

In a blockbuster decision, the Miami City Commission wants to kill the deal with Flagstone Property Group to build a $1 billion mixed-use project on Watson Island.

During a special meeting on Tuesday, commissioners voted 5-0 to declare the developer in default of a ground lease allowing Flagstone to build two hotels and a luxury mall with roughly 221,000-square-foot retail and restaurant space that would complement a megayacht marina completed in 2015.

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Miami Commission declares Flagstone Island Gardens in default of city contract

The ground beneath publicly owned Watson Island and Miami City Hall shifted a little Tuesday when Miami commissioners declared a developer in breach of its city contract to build a waterfront resort off the MacArthur Causeway.

Commissioners — in something of a surprise rebuke of their administration — voted unanimously that Mehmet Bayraktar’s Flagstone Island Gardens has violated portions of an agreement overseeing the construction and operation of a complex of hotel towers, shops and mega-yacht slips approved by voters back in 2001.

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After 16 years, billion dollar project’s fate rests in the hands of the Miami commission

A mega-yacht marina is open at Flagstone Island Gardens, but the hotel towers and shops approved in 2001 have yet to be built. Emily Michot emichot@miamiherald.com

The tumultuous saga of Flagstone Island Gardens is finally coming to a head after 16 years of lawsuits, delays and deadline extensions.

Miami commissioners have called a special meeting Tuesday to debate the fate of the $1 billion complex of shops and hotel towers that voters approved on Watson Island in 2001. Turkish developer Mehmet Bayraktar built and opened a mega-yacht marina early last year, but has only just begun work on the upland portion of the project — an action that is now a point of contention.

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TAXES, WHAT TAXES

Nobody likes to pay taxes, and Mehmet Bayraktar, the developer of Island Gardens seems to be one of those folks.

Ad Valorem taxes become delinquent on April 1st, and when they do, the property owners start getting notices to that effect from the Miami-Dade Tax Collector.  

On April 18th, the city's Asset Management Department, after getting a delinquent notice on the 3 pieces of Watson Island properties that are now leased to the Flagstone group "Hand delivered" the following letter, with copies of the unpaid tax bills.

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FOOL ME ONCE, SHAME ON YOU. FOOL ME TWICE, SHAME ON ME

LIST OF COALITION'S LETTERs TO THE COMMISSION REGARDING THE PENDING APPLICATION BY FLAGSTONE FOR A MUSP MODIFICATION

Will Miami’s Commissioners once again be fooled by the misinformation of City officials who have pulled the wool over their eyes time and time again in the past 16 years?

The City staff may have the inside track, but in a democracy it does not have a monopoly.

Here are 9 letters detailing problems, illegalities and just plain error that the staff have tried to sneak past the Commissioners.

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Vote looms to declare Flagstone in default of Watson Island lease

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A showdown is looming between the Miami City Commission and Flagstone Island Gardens that could see the city boot the developer from one of the most valuable pieces of waterfront land in South Florida.

Miami Commissioner Ken Russell on Thursday announced his desire to declare Flagstone in default of its amended 2010 lease for the southwest corner of publicly owned Watson Island. Flagstone has held the property for about 15 years, going back to when the public approved a mega-yacht marina, hotel and shopping complex in 2001.

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Did Flagstone Island Gardens just break ground? Or break its lease?

Utility excavation work at Flagstone Island Gardens, the island Shangri-la promised 15 years ago on Watson Island and never delivered, was enough to keep the developer in its lease with the city. A photo taken on May 5, looking west toward downtown Miami, shows the property in its current state. (Photo: Emily Michot emichot@miamiherald.com)

Utility excavation work at Flagstone Island Gardens, the island Shangri-la promised 15 years ago on Watson Island and never delivered, was enough to keep the developer in its lease with the city. A photo taken on May 5, looking west toward downtown Miami, shows the property in its current state. (Photo: Emily Michot emichot@miamiherald.com)

It seems like it should have been big news.

In the waning days of April, an excavator rumbled over to the southwest corner of Watson Island and dug a hole. And just like that, Island Gardens, a planned $1 billion complex of hotels and waterfront shops promised Miami’s voters back in 2001 by Mehmet Bayraktar’s Flagstone Property Group, had finally broken ground.

At least on paper, anyway.

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"You Can't Make This Crazy **** Up..."

AFTER OPERATING A RESTAURANT AND BAR WITHIN THE CITY LIMITS FOR ALMOST A YEAR THAT HAD SO MANY CODE VIOLATIONS THEY HAD TO CLOSE IT FOR "SITEWORK AND SPRING RENOVATIONS," THE FLAGSTONE GROUP NOW WANTS TO HOST A GOING AWAY FUNDRAISING DINNER AT THIS RESTAURANT FOR THE MAYOR AS AN APPRECIATION OF THE MANY YEARS HE ALLOWED THESE PEOPLE TO SCREW THE TAXPAYERS

PART IV

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"THE FLAGSTONE GROUP HAS SCREWED THE TAXPAYERS OUT OF AT LEAST $103 MILLION"

OF ALL THE SCHEMES AND HUSTLES THAT HAVE PRAYED ON THE CITIZENS OF MIAMI, NONE HAS LASTED SO LONG, OR COST THE TAXPAYERS SO MUCH AS THE ISLAND GARDENS/WATSON ISLAND RESPORT AND MARINA

OF ALL THE SCHEMES AND HUSTLES THAT HAVE PRAYED ON THE CITIZENS OF MIAMI, NONE HAS LASTED SO LONG, OR COST THE TAXPAYERS SO MUCH AS THE ISLAND GARDENS/WATSON ISLAND RESPORT AND MARINA

The Watson Island resort and marina project has been bedeviling everyone, and by everyone I mean residents from the City of Miami and Miami Beach, members of the Miami City Commission, the Miami Beach City Commission, the Downtown Development Authority (DDA),  the Florida court system, including Circuit and Appellate courts, and the members of Florida's cabinet which include the Governor, Attorney General, Chief Financial Officer, and Commissioner of Agriculture, for a long time now. 

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