FORT LAUDERDALE — Producers of the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show started the event this morning with the unveiling of development plans that promise a better, more permanent venue for future shows.
“The plan that has emerged from this process is one we love and will be great for the boat show,” said Efrem (Skip) Zimbalist III, chairman and CEO of Active Interest Media, which owns boat show producer Show Management Inc.
Executives from LXR Luxury Resorts & Hotels, which operates the Bahia Mar YachtingCenter through a lease agreement with the city, were at this morning’s press breakfast to discuss the highlights of the estimated $500 million project. They called it a “comprehensive plan to transform the present 16-acre parking lot, which includes an outdated hotel, into a community showpiece.”
Specifically, the proposal includes new permanent space for the Fort Lauderdale show; Waldorf-Astoria Resort & Spa, Waldorf-Astoria apartments; restaurants, retail and yacht brokerage space; and the renovation of the existing Bahia Mar hotel tower.
Throughout the construction process, every consideration will be given to accommodate the annual boat show, said Peter Henn, managing director of Blackstone, an LXR subsidiary. This includes a permanent area for exhibitor tents, designing electric and other utilities for easier exhibitor setups, and scheduling the construction so it doesn’t interfere with the show.
“We need to keep the boat show here,” said Henn. “It’s all about the boat show. We want this to be the place where people come to buy boats.”
Developers are still going through the permitting process. Construction is expected to start in three years, beginning with the park area and the new hotel. Construction will be put on hold during the show and resume afterward.
— Melanie Winters