Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Developers Unveil Big Plans for St. Augustine Shipyard

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Developers Unveil Big Plans for St. Augustine Shipyard

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Korfhage

St. Augustine Shipyard project manager and partner Robert Million sometimes thinks of the thousands of cars that drive right by the development every day without realizing all the work that's happening there.

He knows it won't be a secret much longer.

Owners of the 50-acre development opened the property to media and community leaders Thursday afternoon and shared some of the details of their plans.

If things progress the way the owners think it will, the Shipyard is going to be a landscape-changing development for the St. Augustine waterfront.

"The people that know [about the development] are extremely excited," Million said. "We're now public with it."

Million said the project will eventually include up to five waterfront restaurants, a hotel, retail and office space, marine service and sales areas, dry and marina boat storage, and a children's museum.

The Shipyard is at the site of the former Luhrs and DESCO boat manufacturing center. Diesel Engine Sales Co., later referred to as DESCO, built 2,685 boats there from 1943 to 1982 - most of which were shrimp trawlers. The site was most recently used by Luhrs, which ceased operations here in 2008.

The current owners picked up the property in a bankruptcy sale and have been making plans for it ever since. County property records show the land at 255 Diesel Road - near the Target on U.S. 1 - was acquired for $1.95 million in 2013.

So far, the only part of the project nearing completion is the boat storage business, which is expected to open in about a month. There is room to store up to 400 boats in the building, with access to the San Sebastian River, and there will be 80 slips in the water.

But that's really a small part of the entire endeavor.

With a planned half-mile promenade along the river, ample parking and attractions like restaurants and the museum, the Shipyard is poised to become a destination that could be an alternative to St. Augustine's historic district, which is often filled to capacity with visitors.

When the project does come together, St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce president Isabelle Rodriguez said she thinks it will be the kind of location that brings in locals and visitors alike. …

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