ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A major marina project is planned in St. Augustine. It is the St. Augustine Shipyard Project on the site of the former DESCO and Luhrs boat manufacturing site off of U.S. 1.
The site sat empty for years.
Bob Million is a co-owner and developer of the property.
"It's a unique site," he said. "You wouldn't be able to duplicate this anywhere in the area."
About a year ago, Million and a business partner bought it in a bankruptcy auction with plans to unlock its potential and turn it into a marine oriented merchant community.
He pointed to the large and former boat manufacturing building, "This building will actually be removed in its entirety and be reconstructed in this same airspace. It will be used for dry boat storage.
That's Phase One, which will also include some commercial space. Phase One has been approved by St. Augustine city officials, and it's expected to open in fall 2014.
He said, "We're approved to construct 85,000 square feet of boat storage and commercial space."
Phase Two is much bigger. He calls it "the wish part" because the city and county still need to permit it first. If approved, Phase Two would include restaurants, shops, a hotel, wet boat storage areas, and a promenade that could be used for art festivals and farmers markets.
In all, there would be several thousand square feet of commercial space.
The project spans 1,000 feet along the San Sebastian River that has deep water access, Million said.
Million expects this project can create hundreds of permanent jobs. Already people are at work on the site. "We're trying to hire local contractors as much as possible and hire people from the community."
While some of the buildings will go, some will stay, such as the old ice plant building on site. If approved, it will be an aquatic center with "paddleboat rental, eco tours, and marine research stuff."
Million said the site is unique because of its waterfront, deep water access, and ample space for parking.
"You're turning a derelict piece of property that was abandoned in 2007 and has not been used and creating something the community can use," he explained.