Melbourne leaders envision the former Coral Bay Restaurant-Intracoastal Marina as a signature site offering public docking and a mixture of commercial uses.
MELBOURNE – City leaders envision the former Coral Bay Restaurant-Intracoastal Marina as a signature site offering public docking and a mixture of commercial uses — not a large hotel or private condominium complex.
The city bought the abandoned U.S. 1 “Marina Towers” property last December for $1.375 million as a future development target. A $359,000 Florida Inland Navigational District grant has defrayed the purchase price. Anecdotally, the site would fetch more than $2 million today on the market, Deputy City Manager Shannon Lewis said.
Wednesday night, the Melbourne City Council brainstormed about the defunct marina’s future for more than an hour. No votes occurred. City Hall staffers will soon seek public-private partnership proposals from developers, Lewis said.
This 4.4 upland-acre site near Cherry Street was home to the yellow-painted Coral Bay restaurant, which was battered by the 2004 hurricanes and demolished in 2011. Next door, a white-and-blue boat storage building has been reduced to a roof and metal skeleton.
Council members indicated they prefer to retain city ownership and seek lease deals rather than sell off the land. Councilwoman Teresa Lopez said she wants to see bustling activity, like at Grills Riverside on U.S. 1 near Palm Shores.
“You see how packed that is every weekend? That’s what I would like to see. Something like that. People going, having a great time,” Lopez said.
Lewis said the city’s Florida Department of Environmental Protection permit for a future marina requires 81 wet slips — 90 percent earmarked for transient use — and 250 dry slips, with a development date of July 2016.
City Manager Mike McNees labeled last winter’s land buy a “once in a lifetime, maybe once in two or three lifetimes, opportunity for the city.”
At the north end of the site, Melbourne International Airport officials have resurrected their 2005 proposal to build a barge terminal and use the marina’s deep-water channel to transport large goods from Port Canaveral to the airport.
That idea emerged when EADS North America was considering building a $600 million-plus tanker assembly plant at the airport. The aeronautics company proposed to float large sections of airplane wings and fuselages from the port down the Indian River Lagoon.
Bill Potter, chairman of the Melbourne Airport Authority, told council members the airport could lease a portion of the site from the city. Both entities could also ink a revenue-sharing agreement, he said.
Councilman Mike Nowlin supported the barge terminal, along with a rebuilt boat storage facility.
“That’s a huge benefit to us. All those are huge moneymaking opportunities for the city,” Nowlin said.
However, Vice Mayor Betty Moore worried aloud about additional truck traffic on U.S. 1. Councilman Dan Porsi also noted that development could be hampered by limited parking, which appears insufficient for a public boat launch.
Portions of the deteriorated seawall date to 1965, and Lewis estimated reconstruction costs will hit $500,000 to $700,000.
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