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Redevelopment planned for Fort Lauderdale show site

During a presentation to the Marine Industries Association of South Florida last week, Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist III told exhibitors that the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show would go on with minimal disruption at the Bahia Mar Yachting Center during a proposed billion-dollar redevelopment of the 39-acre property over seven or eight years.

Some exhibitors almost certainly will have to move, either temporarily or permanently, said Zimbalist, CEO of Show Management, the show’s producer. “But we have solutions,” he said. “We’ll be very communicative and listen to you.”

Working with new leaseholders who bought out Bahia Mar’s long-term lease this summer, Show Management already is planning for how FLIBS would accommodate exhibitors temporarily displaced by the construction and redevelopment. One likely way would be to erect tents on the beach across the street from the Bahia Mar for them, said Andrew Doole, Show Management senior vice president.

“We’ll be able to accommodate people without moving them too far,” he said.

The leaseholders, an investment group made up of Tate Capital, Rok Acquisitions, Rialto Capital Management and RCI Marine, has proposed a $1 billion hotel-residential-marina complex with a park-like public promenade along the waterfront and a parking garage convertible to indoor exhibit space during the show.

The plan envisions investing $40 million in the hotel, keeping the 250-slip marina — which is in good shape — and building a two-story, 200,000-square-foot parking garage with two atriums, 16-foot ceilings and special lighting so the parking space is convertible to indoor exhibit space during the boat show. Topped by a park, the garage would be part of a five-story complex with 100 residences, offices and a fitness center.

There also would be two 39-story residential towers, two waterfront restaurants, a restaurant in one of the towers, a gourmet grocery store, additional offices and an 18-foot-wide public promenade along the water linked to a Bahamian-style “fishing village,” where one of the restaurants and commercial kiosks would be.

The project, which is under review by Fort Lauderdale’s Development Review Committee, requires city approval. It has received good reviews from neighbors, who have panned proposals from previous owners, said Tate Capital’s Jimmy Tate.

Traffic generated by the project along an already congested beach road remains problematic. Tate has said he has commissioned a study of traffic issues.