County taps Derecktor for major Port of Fort Pierce project

Derecktor shipyards anticipates employing more than 50 workers and catering to a worldwide clientele at the mega-yacht service center it plans to develop at the Port of Fort Pierce.

St. Lucie County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a 30-year lease and franchise agreement with Derecktor Fort Pierce LLC for the 12-acre Indian River Marine Terminal.

The deal marks the first major economic development initiative at the Port of Fort Pierce in decades, officials said. It also sets up the rest of the port and the nearby Treasure Coast International Airport for more economic development.

“With this agreement, you will transform the Port of Fort Pierce beyond decades of planning into a job-creating economic engine that ports are supposed to be,” Stan Payne, the county’s port and airport director, told the commissioners.

“Derecktor is committed to developing the terminal into a world-class facility and that will produce economic waves across this entire community,” Payne said.

Derecktor leaders told county officials they plan to attract mega-yachts and large sailboats from throughout the world to the Port of Fort Pierce for maintenance and repairs. “Monaco, Newport, Palma de Mallorca and Fort Pierce – yes, Fort Pierce,” said John Koenig, a Derecktor spokesman. “We believe Fort Pierce will become that sort of destination, not for the glamor, but for Fort Pierce itself and for what this boatyard will offer.”

Derecktor agreed to pay the county $1.1 million in rent per year and an annual franchise fee starting at $250,000 per year. The fee would rise to $291,777 annually for the next nine years and drop back to $264,000 annually for years 10 through 25.

Derecktor also agreed to pay the county a 2 percent franchise feel on its gross annual sales revenues between $30 million and $40 million, and 1 percent of its gross annual sales revenues above $40 million.

Derecktor Florida’s business model estimates gross sales reaching $50 million by its fifth year of operations at the port, county records show. That would provide the county an additional $300,000.

Derecktor’s annual payments will cover the county’s debt service on the loans that financed the $25 million purchase of the marine terminal site and a 10 percent stake in a 67-acre port property in January 2018.

The 30-year deal has three 15-year options. At the end of the first term and each subsequent term, the county’s guaranteed payment will increase 20 percent.

Derecktor agreed to relocate its corporate headquarters to St. Lucie County within three years, county records say. The company’s Florida operation is based in Dania Beach.

Derecktor agreed to order the largest mobile boat hoist available for the terminal to move mega-yachts in and out of the water, said James Brewer, another company official. That will give the facility an edge on other boatyards in South Florida.

Derecktor can bail out of the port deal up until Sept. 1, 2020. That’s when the rent payments kick in.

The county agreed to remove the packing house on the property and clean up environmental contamination.

Derecktor agreed to take responsibility for any environmental issues arising out of its operations at the terminal and carry a $10 million pollution liability policy.

In addition, the company agreed to work with Indian River State College and others to create a training and apprenticeship program.

The deal would eliminate most of the county’s routine costs for its property at the Port of Fort Pierce, records show.

The commissioners selected Derecktor for the lease instead of Fort Pierce Yacht & Ship LLC of Vero Beach, which services mega-yachts at the port next door to the marine terminal property.

Former state Rep. Larry Lee (D-Fort Pierce) was among those encouraging Derecktor to accommodate Fort Pierce Yacht & Ship’s operations.

Several county officials and community leaders said the jobs Derecktor will bring to the port make the redevelopment efforts worthwhile.

“We were looking to create jobs,” said County Administrator Howard Tipton. “We wanted to create the opportunity for the Port of Fort Pierce to be on the worldwide map for job creation and for mega-yacht repair and overall maintenance.”

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