a house under construction with a truck parked in front of it
Marathon vs deo boatworks: An extensive series of legal disputes and state sanctions stemming from a development at the end of 39th Street, colloquially referred to as Boat Works, have been laid to rest after nearly three years. ALEX RICKERT/Keys Weekly

On June 12, Marathon announced the successful settlement of multiple lawsuits, marking a long-anticipated resolution of complex legal disputes that originated from the initial appeal of the Boat Works development agreement by the Department of Economic Opportunity, now known as Florida Commerce. The lawsuits also involved appeals regarding Transferable Building Rights (TBRs) that had originally been transferred off of the Boat Works site. Further appeals were filed on building permits that were issued by the city that relied on these building rights.

No fines or legal fees were paid by any side of the multiparty settlement.

“These settlements have been achieved through the concerted efforts of the city’s planning director Brian Shea and city attorney Steve Williams, whose expertise was instrumental in navigating this complex legal landscape,” public information officer Sara Matthis wrote in a press release. “Shea played a crucial role by bringing forward seven critical amendments to the Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Regulations, which paved the way for these settlement resolutions.”

An anonymous letter sent to state officials alleging that Marathon wasn’t tracking permits and allocations for new construction compounded the appeals. However, the city staff’s tracking and administering of the transfer of building rights process was a vital component in ensuring the smooth and effective settlement of these disputes.

“Through meticulous record keeping, the city was able to provide spreadsheets tracking determination letters, recorded warranty and transfer deeds for each building right transfer, individual record and transfer numbers for each unit, as well as linked planning and building permits,” said Shea.

These settlements were officially authorized by the city council. Resolution 2023-12 authorized the initial settlement of the Boat Works Development Agreement. Resolution 2023-100 allowed for the settling of the TBRs that had been previously transferred from the site in 2021 and used to allocate units to vacant buildable land throughout the city. Resolutions 2024-02 & 2024-03 settled specific building permits that had received the market rate building rights in late 2021 and early 2022.

“We are grateful for the tireless efforts of both Brian Shea and Steve Williams, and their dedicated staff,” said City Manager George Garrett. “Their expertise and perseverance have been crucial in achieving these settlements, which will allow us to move forward with confidence and continue to support the smart, environmentally sensitive growth and development of our community.”