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Bigger is better at Miami institution

Boatyard owners Victor and Jose Bared are betting that Miami is poised to become a popular megayacht destination and reclaim its heritage as a city that welcomes high-rolling yachtsmen.

The Bareds, commercial developers and owners of an aircraft repair shop, bought Jones Boat Yard on the Miami River in April 2003. This past July they added another gem to their collection, “Jones East,” a shipping terminal on Miami’s Government Cut next to the Coast Guard.

The Bareds — Victor, the president; and Jose, his nephew and yard manager — want to put the yards on the map as megayacht repair facilities, and ride a cresting wave of interest in drawing more big yachts to Miami, especially “superyachts” 150, 200 feet and longer.

“Miami at one time had a very strong yachting industry, but we lost it to Fort Lauderdale,” says Jose Bared. “Fort Lauderdale is limited in the size of vessel it can take, and boats are getting larger and larger. Our aim is to cater to the larger vessels — the superyachts.”

Clean and elegant, the superyachts drop a lot of money in town when they stop for repairs, maintenance and provisioning, and the owners, their families, visitors and crew pump cash into the local economy with spending on food, lodging, shopping and entertainment.

The city already has one 131-slip megayacht marina on Fisher Island, a private 216-acre residential and resort community with golf course, beach club, resort hotel, and eight restaurants and lounges.

The Bareds have developed an alliance with the marina so that mega-

yacht owners and crew can put in there when they arrive or depart from Miami. “It’s a beautiful place,” says Bared. “You’ve got a beautiful view from the marina, probably one of the most beautiful in the world.” If they want to, owners and crews can be pampered there.

Bared also is bullish on a proposed $281 million private-public partnership to build a 48-slip megayacht marina, two resort hotels, a fish market, retail, dining, entertainment and cultural facilities on Watson Island on Biscayne Bay, near downtown Miami.

“The city is behind it,” Bared says and the developer, Flagstone Island Gardens, is working on plans. Though at least several years away, the project would bring megayachts to the yard, but Bared says he and his uncle believe the yard will draw yachts to the marinas and help catalyze Miami’s waterfront transformation. The Miami River already is in the early stages of a renaissance that planners are trying to shape with a blueprint calling for a variety of uses, from high-rise residences, retail shops, restaurants and a riverwalk with tie-ups for boats downtown, to small marinas, water-dependent businesses and residential neighborhoods midriver and farther upstream still offloading docks for shallow-draft freighters. Dredging also is planned, which should restore the river channel to 17 to 18 feet at low tide.

“We’re seeing a cleanup of the abandoned freighters we had for so long,” says Bared. “We see more yachts coming up the river. It’s nice.”

The Jones yard is a Miami institution. The Cleve Jones family owned the Miami River property from at least 1922 (until its sale to the Bareds last year) and started repairing boats in earnest there after World War II. The yard is well-known for its two drydocks. One is capable of hauling boats 300 feet long, with 60-foot beams, and displacing up to 1,800 tons. The other accommodates vessels 180 feet long, with 48-foot beams and displacing 950 tons. A syncrolift on rails hauls boats up to 112 feet and 200 tons.

Bared is seeking a third drydock with 3,000-ton capacity for the Jones East yard, which will be developed specifically for the superyachts, especially the big sailboats with soaring masts that can’t get under the Interstate 95 bridge with its 75- to 80-foot clearance.

Bared says his workforce has more than tripled to 100 since the purchase. Improvements include a ship’s store, crew lounge, wireless Internet access, and full carpentry, paint and teak deck shops.

The yard has hosted behemoths ranging from the 241-foot Giant, a former Russian icebreaker converted to an adventure yacht, to the elegant 157-foot Sensation Aria and 115-foot Benetti Siete.

“[The Jones yard] had the name. It had been around a long time,” Bared says. “We just repositioned it to where we see the future is.”

And though the yard still works on boats as small as 30 feet, Bared says the future at Jones is superyachts. www.