Million-Dollar Boat Slips
Part 2: Fort Lauderdale is becoming like the south of France—a place where dock space is virtually nonexistent.
By Kim Kavin — June 2004
The lack of smaller-boat dockage space driven by the megayacht influx, combined with the increasing number of high-end condominiums without slips, is pushing boaters to pay ever-higher marina fees citywide—or to invest in waterfront real estate with dock space they can control. Many are choosing the latter, then applying for homestead designation (which means the owner lives on the land) that can cap property tax increases at three percent a year no matter how much the value of the home appreciates, Terrill says.
Compare that with the future rate increases for boats of all sizes at marinas with unquenchable demand, he suggests. “What you have to pay for dockage for a megayacht and a tender, you might as well own a house,” Libster agrees. She lives on a 100-foot waterfront lot in Las Olas and believes this is the last year homes will sell in that area for less than $1.5 million. Point lots, at the end of canals and able to accommodate megayachts, are already pushing $3 million for teardowns. “There’s one condominium project in town with 150-foot slips, and they sell for $350,000,” she says. “That’s the slip. One condo for sale with a slip like that is $2.3 million.”
The waterfront real estate push from boaters is so strong that Terrill sees it extending up the New River, to neighborhoods like Riverland and Citrus Isles that can be at least an hour’s cruise from the inlet. The houses there are generally older and smaller, with no more than 75 feet of waterfront, but the average price of a teardown has risen from about $300,000 a few years ago to about $500,000 now, he says. It makes sense: People who can’t find one large property in a prime location are buying adjacent smaller properties up the river to accommodate their yachts.
“Without a doubt, it’s boating that’s driving it,” Terrill says. “If you wanted to pay $500,000 for a house that was not waterfront, you would have a very nice, large-square-footage, new home. Instead, people are buying much, much older homes that are teardowns or need a lot of work.”
At the end of the day, Terrill believes Fort Lauderdale is becoming like the south of France—a place where dock space is virtually nonexistent and where the bulk of it is reserved for boats bigger than 80 feet. As anyone who has cruised there knows, there's no going back once that threshold is crossed.
“In Europe many years ago, there was a reasonable amount of space for the yachts,” he recalls from his days in command of a 133-foot Feadship. “As the industry grew, it got to the point where in the high season, the first captain in who negotiated with the dockmaster might get a slip. There were ten other yachts hanging out in the harbor on the Cote D’Azur that had to spend the night on the anchor. That’s the way it is there now, and that’s happening now in Fort Lauderdale.”
Looking toward the future of dock space in Southeast Florida, today’s $1-million teardown waterfront homes in Fort Lauderdale may indeed be quite the bargain, no matter what size boat you own.
Intercoastal Realty Phone: (954) 224-1488. www.intercoastalrealty.com.
Galleria Collection of Fine Homes Phone: (954) 614-3275. www.deborahsellsforyou.com.
This article originally appeared in the May 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.