Inside a mega houseboat in Miami at the center of a tax dispute

The owner of a luxury green-powered houseboat in Florida has found himself at the center of a tax dispute with Miami-Dade County.

Arkup houseboats are designed to be environmentally friendly “habitable yachts”.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

House or boat? At first glance, this may seem like a simple question, but it is being debated between representatives of the owner of an innovative floating houseboat in Florida, known as Arkup #1, and Miami County. -Dad.

While this floating mansion can travel on water at five knots per hour, the county said it should be liable for personal property tax and imposed a $120 tax bill on the owner, MacKnight International Inc. $000, the Miami Herald reported.

Miami-Dade County officials did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

The house is the genius project of two French engineers, whose yacht company is dedicated to building floating homes that stand the test of time.

Arkup co-founder Nicolas Derouin stands by the houseboat in 2019.

Arkup co-founder Nicolas Derouin stands by the houseboat in 2019.

Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

It is up to the county and the attorneys to determine if Arkup #1 is a villa or a yacht.

But as for her origin story, the unique-looking vessel was built by two French engineers who launched their Miami-based yacht company, also called Arkup, in 2016. According to a press release from Arkup from 2018, the company is dedicated to the sustainable construction of “blue homes of the future” using high-end quality and technical innovation.

Company co-founders Nicolas Derouin and Arnaud Luguet launched Arkup #1 in 2019, when it went on sale for a whopping $5.5 million, according to a 2019 press release.

The $5.5 million home is moored at Star Island, a star-studded island in Miami.

Map of star island.

Arkup #1 is moored off Miami’s glitzy Star Island.

Google Maps, Jeff Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

With its price tag of $5.5 million, Arkup #1 fits right in where it’s currently anchored: Miami’s famed Star Island.

Gated and guarded 24/7, Star Island is known for attracting a few equally star-studded owners, including Jennifer Lopez, Gloria Estefan, Rosie O’Donnell, Madonna and Shaquille O’Neal, Insider previously reported.

Arkup #1 has all the trappings of a modern luxury mansion, including a kitchen equipped with Miele appliances with an ocean view.

Arkup #1.

The open concept kitchen is fully equipped with Miele appliances.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Whether houseboat or house, Arkup #1’s 4,300 square foot interior has the luxury amenities one would expect of a modern home on Star Island.

According to CBS Miami, the kitchen is designed in Europe with Silestone countertops, oak floors, and high-end German-made cabinetry.

Architectural Digest also reported that the kitchen comes with a built-in wine cellar, plenty of storage, and overlooks the ocean view through the surrounding floor-to-ceiling windows.

The floating mansion may be recognizable as it was featured in Netflix’s ‘The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals’.

The Arkup barge.

The first floor lounge of the Arkup houseboat.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

When it debuted at the Miami Boat Show in 2019, Arkup #1 quickly caught the attention of an array of publications, including the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, and was even featured in the first season, episode three of Netflix’s “The World’s Most Amazing”. Holiday rents.”

During the show, travel host Jo Franco describes it as a “luxury property floating 20 feet above the water”.

“It sits on 40-foot hydraulic legs that retract when we’re ready to step down,” she added.

While the current owner stays on the boat “from time to time”, Arkup #1 is fitted out to accommodate eight people in four bedrooms.

The houseboat can accommodate up to eight people in four bedrooms.

The houseboat can accommodate up to eight people in four bedrooms.

Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

According to the Miami Herald, the current owner of Arkup #1 is British-born businessman Jonathan Brown, who bought the floating mansion for $3.3 million in 2021 through his fish processing business and MacKnight International Inc.

The South Florida Business Journal reported that the home, which is fully furnished by Artefacto, is equipped to sleep eight people in four bedrooms. Lawyers representing MacKnight International Inc. told Insider that the owner visits “from time to time” when monitoring the progress of construction of his other residence on Star Island.

The owner’s lawyers said they chose Arkup solely because it was an “ecological alternative to energy-guzzling yachts”.

The house is also configured with smart home automation.

The house is also configured with smart home automation.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In an email to Insider, attorneys Ivan Abrams and Karen Lapekas said their client was “not trying to circumvent property tax laws by buying a boat.”

“Instead, while buying a boat, the Arkup caught his eye as an eco-friendly alternative to gas-guzzling yachts,” their statement read. “He stays there temporarily from time to time while he is in Miami to monitor the progress of the construction of the residence on the property where the Arkup is currently moored.”

Examples of its environmental awareness include its roof covered with solar panels and a rainwater harvesting system.

Roof of Arkup #1.

Its “green power” features include a roof charged with solar panels.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In a 2021 interview with CEO Magazine, Derouin said Arkup was founded on the “symbiosis of ecology and architecture”.

“Our homes are designed to be function-driven, user-centric, smart and friendly – ​​for people and for the environment,” he added. “Everything is sustainable.”

With Arkup #1, the standout features demonstrating the green energy goal are the solar panel roof and the rainwater collection and purification system, the Miami Herald reported.

Even though it also has all the necessary characteristics of a pleasure craft and has been designated as such by the US Coast Guard, Miami-Dade County officials remain unconvinced.

Arkup #1.

Is Arkup #1 a house or a boat?


“The Arkup is registered as a vessel with the State of Florida,” attorneys for MacKnight International Inc said in their statement to Insider.

They added that the four government officials were taken for a two-hour cruise aboard Arkup #1 on February 7, 2022, which they said “proved beyond question that the ship was more than ‘capable of transport and navigation on water “”.

Nonetheless, the Miami Herald reports that court documents show Miami-Dade County officials are unconvinced. They said the ship “was not built to be used primarily as a means of transport on water”.

Whether or not the house is a house or a boat is still in dispute – but representatives for the owner say their client is not trying to find a tax loophole.

The Arkup barge.

The Arkup houseboat is at the center of a tax dispute between Miami-Dade County and its owner.

Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

“To be clear, this is not a case where our client is trying to find a loophole in tax law,” Abrams and Lapekas’ joint statement read.

“This is a matter concerning the government of Miami-Dade County ignoring state law and the state constitution by attempting to illegally tax a vessel that was registered with the state as a than ship,” he continued. “Under these circumstances, such blatant government excess cannot be left unchecked.”

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