Port call: Mega-yacht work could start in fall

Derecktor shipyards hopes to start servicing mega-yachts in November at its new facilities at the Port of Fort Pierce and eventually employ more than 100 workers.

Derecktor and St. Lucie County officials held a celebration Monday to mark the start of the demolition of the decrepit Indian River Terminal to make way for a massive boat lift.

“It’s the first step in the development of this site into a world-class mega-yacht shipyard,” said James Brewer, a Derecktor official. “I would anticipate Derecktor servicing boats here in the water sometime in November,”

The facility is being designed to accommodate mega-yachts greater than 180-feet long, Brewer said. There are 1,500 to 2,000 vessels that size throughout the world.

A new mega-yacht costs about $150 million to purchase and $15 million per year to operate and maintain, Brewer said.

The new Derecktor shipyard is the first major project undertaken at the mostly vacant port near Fort Pierce Inlet after more than two decades of planning and discussion. St. Lucie County is paying P & C Construction of the Treasure Coast $262,000 to clear the 62,480-square-foot building at 101 Port Avenue A.

The removal of the 83-year-old building is one of the terms of the county’s 30-year lease and franchise agreement with Derecktor for the 11-acre terminal property.

Derecktor agreed to pay $1.1 million in rent annually plus a franchise fee starting at $250,000 per year.

Derecktor will also move its corporate headquarters to St. Lucie County from Dania Beach within three years as part of the deal.

“We share a belief this is the last untapped resource on the southeast Florida coast,” Brewer said about the port. “It boasts deep water, easy access to the ocean and no overhead obstructions.”

Powerlines crossing over the access canal to Derecktor’s Dania Beach shipyard prevent it from servicing vessels greater than 180 feet long, Brewer said.

“We are seeking to service vessels larger than that,” Brewer said about the Fort Pierce shipyard. “We anticipate going after large sailboats from 100 to 250 feet in length and also large motor yachts from 200 feet and larger.

“It’s an attractive site for sail boats,” Brewer said. “There’s plenty of space here to work on masts and all the equipment sailboats bring with them.”

Derecktor anticipates installing the world’s largest mobile hoist – 1,500 tons – next summer, Brewer said. There will also be a 4,000-ton drydock.

“We have the ability to build a site in Fort Pierce that is unique in that it’s not constrained by previous uses,” Brewer said. “This is a clean sheet of paper.”

St. Lucie County Commissioner Chris Dzadovsky said the new Derecktor shipyard “will change the face of the port.”

The county is trying to figure out how to manage its 20-acre Harbor Point property to facilitate more business development at the port, Dzadovsky said.

The county would also like to encourage the expansion of the Fort Pierce Yacht and Ship facility at the port, Dzadovsky said.

Several mega-yacht owners have contacted Derecktor about when the new service center will open, Brewer said.

“We don’t know how long the demolition is going to take, or the site remediation,” Brewer said. “Until the building comes down and we have a fixed timeline, it’s very difficult to come to contract with a customer.”

It’s like the terminal property was waiting for the right company to see its potential, Brewer said.

“We’re recognize the opportunity,” Brewer said. “We are confident that both our reputation and the health of the yachting industry bodes well for the facility here in Fort Pierce.”

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