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Sebastian Council to discuss lease terms for commercial fishing site

SEBASTIAN – The City of Sebastian has closed on the $750,000 purchase of the Dabrowski property on Indian River Drive and will consider leasing the site to a non-profit group to revive commercial fishing along the city’s waterfront.

According to court records, the city closed on the land buy earlier this month with the Dabrowski Trust for $750,000, the amount three of five Sebastian City Council members approved in March.

The property, located immediately south of the former Hurricane Harbor, is expected to be leased to the Fishermen’s Landing Sebastian Inc. for “providing its members a commercial fishing dock, fish off-loading fish packing facility, aquaculture, fundraising, special events and other uses that may support the commercial fishing industry,” the draft lease agreement states.

The Sebastian City Council is expected to discuss the lease’s terms with Fishermen’s Landing Sebastian at the July 28 meeting.

If approved as is, the non-profit could lease the site from the city for 10 years and have the option to renew the lease for another 10 years.

According to the draft lease, the organization could pay either $1,000 rent each month or 2 cents per pound of fish and $2.50 per bushel of shellfish per month, whichever is greater.

“It is anticipated that the premises may generate revenue via the rental of commercial boat slips, upland subleases, the operation of aquaculture equipment, visitor general admission, and lease space to businesses supporting the commercial fishing industry,” the draft agreement states.

In March, Vice Mayor Jim Hill and City Council members Andrea Coy and Don Wright voted to approve the $750,000 purchase price for the land, noting that it would help bring back commercial fishing and could be the spark the waterfront district needs to bring more business to the area.

The price, however, required the council to allocate an extra $179,000 from its Community Redevelopment Agency budget to make up the difference it had budgeted for the purchase.

The City of Sebastian received state funding through the Stan Mayfield Working Waterfront Grant to help purchase both Hurricane Harbor and Dabrowski properties.

The city paid $230,000 for the Hurricane Harbor site, 10 percent of the purchase price. The state, through the grant, paid $2.3 million.

Councilman Wright said in March that he felt the $750,000 price tag for the Dabrowski site was fair and “a representation of what’s the value of the property and benefit to the city.”

Wright told the council that the property’s commercial square foot value alone would be more than the purchase price, calculating it to be $47.67 per square foot.

At 16,553 square feet, the property’s value would be $788,128, by Wright’s calculation.

If the lease agreement were approved, Fishermen’s Landing Sebastian would be required to restore and create a new fish house at the former Hurricane Harbor site. The fish house would serve as the primary weighing and fish processing station, according to the draft proposal.

The fish house would also provide a visitor’s station that would be a safe and convenient location for the general public to view and be educated about the commercial fishing industry in Sebastian.

The group would also have to install a public access boardwalk along the shoreline to link neighboring waterfront properties.

On the Dabrowski site, the Fishermen’s Landing Sebastian co-op would be allowed to develop an ice depot, fish market with limited seating for food and beverage service, a smoke house, or other such endeavors.

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