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Bahia Mar renovations to focus on Ft. Lauderdale show

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The plans are beautiful, and the planning in immense for the latest version of Bahia Mar Yachting Center in Ft. Lauderdale.

A contemporary, property with hotel, residential, office, retail and restaurant space will fill the 39-acre property, all while creating special room for the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

“Our first mandate from the city when we took the property was to take care of the boat show,” said James Tate, head of Tate Capital and a major investor in the $1 billion renovation. “It’s not just a place for the boat show, it’s a campus. When you leave, you will feel invigorated, like you just experienced something.”

In an effort not to disrupt the boat show too much, work will be planned and executed at other times of the year, making each phase available each fall. Because of that, renovations are expected to take about eight years.

The first phase begins with the renovations to the hotel, which Tate said he hopes to get permits for in January. Then they plan to build a parking garage and 39-story condo tower on the narrow strip of land on the north side of the property closest to the road, which will also serve as the new entrance to the show, and an 18-foot wide promenade that encircles the property, with a roadway beside it for better traffic management. During the show, that roadway will become a pedestrian area.

NEWS Bahia Mar Hotel

Bahia Mar Hotel

An open-air marina village including restaurants and kiosks comes next on the southeast corner of the property, followed by another 39-story condo tower on the south side in front of the hotel, replacing the low-rise hotel there now.

Just west of the center of the property will be a parking garage specifically built to house the boat show, complete with 16-foot ceilings, air conditioning, adequate power and lights, bathrooms and two huge atriums for natural light. It will be ringed with office space and topped with residential units and a signature fitness center.

Eventually, the northwest and southwest corners of the property will have waterfront restaurants. No changes to the docks are planned.

“We reimagined this property to make it first class, best in class and second to none,” said B. Scott Lamont, a principal with the planning and landscape architect firm EDSA in Ft. Lauderdale.

Andrew Doole from Show Management shared detailed drawings of how the show would evolve around every phase of construction, beginning with next year where some exhibitors will be in air conditioned tents across the street in the city parking lot.

“When it’s done, we’ll have the most consumer user-friendly show we’ve ever had,” Doole said. “Better than Monaco, Cannes and Dusseldorf.”

Other changes to the show are under way. The Marine Industries Association of South Florida has been working for months to reinvent the show and create a vision for its evolution over the next 10 years.

A VIP experience begins this year with a VIP hospitality center at Hall of Fame on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the show. The venue, as well as concierge service to some of the builders’ vessels, is created by Quint Events, the North Carolina-based company that creates corporate events as part of the Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby and Nascar races. Tickets to the VIP center are $399 for one day, $1,099 for all three days.

“Because we started late, we’re starting slow, but next year we’ll merge the event with travel to create a complete experience from when they step off the airplane to when they step on again to leave,” said Brian Learst, owner of Quint Events. “Your customers want this experience,” he told MIASF members.

MIASF has also remade the show’s logo, web site and social media platforms, as well as added an on-site media studio for on-site production of show videos.

Lucy Chabot Reed is editor of The Triton. Comments are welcome: lucy@the-triton.com.

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