$5.5M Luxury House in Miami… is it a house or a boat?
The residence, which features Silestone, is at the center of a tax dispute with Miami-Dade County. The debate is whether it should be taxed as a home, or whether it’s exempt as a “vessel.”Attorneys for the Owner
The floating mansion may be recognizable since it was spotlighted in Netflix’s “The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals.” Whether it’s a houseboat or a house, the 4,300 square foot interior of Arkup #1 has the luxury amenities one would expect from a modern home on Star Island. According to CBS Miami, the kitchen is European designed with Silestone countertops, oak floors, and top-of-the-line German-made cabinetry. Architectural Digest also reported that the kitchen comes equipped with a built-in wine cellar, plenty of storage, and looks out onto ocean views through the surrounding floor-to-ceiling windows.
When it first debuted in 2019, the houseboat quickly garnered attention from an array of publications including The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, and was featured on the show The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals. It has been describes as a ‘luxury property floating 20 feet above the water. It stands on 40-foot hydraulic legs that retract when we’re ready to pull away.’
House or Boat?
On the surface, this might seem like a straightforward question, but it’s one under debate between representatives of the owner of an innovative floating houseboat in Florida, known as Arkup #1, and Miami-Dade County. While this floating mansion can travel on water at five knots per hour, the county said it should be liable for personal property taxation and has footed the owner, MacKnight International Inc, with a $120,000 tax bill as such, the Miami Herald reported.
The home is the mastermind project of two French engineers, whose yacht company is dedicated to building future-proof floating homes. Whether or not it is deemed a villa or a yacht is up to the county and lawyers to determine. But as to its origin story, the unique-looking vessel was built by two French engineers who started their Miami-based yacht company, also called Arkup, in 2016. According to a 2018 Arkup press release, the company is dedicated to building sustainable “future-proof blue dwellings” using top-of-the-line quality and technical innovation.
The company co-founders, Nicolas Derouin and Arnaud Luguet, debuted the Arkup #1 in 2019, when it was marketed for sale at a whopping $5.5 million, according to a 2019 press release. The $5.5 million home is docked in Miami’s star-studded Star Island. With its $5.5 million price tag, Arkup #1 fits right into where it’s currently anchored: Miami’s famously glitzy Star Island.
Attorneys for the owner say they chose Arkup purely because it was an “eco-friendly alternative to gas-guzzling yachts.” Arkup #1 has all the trappings of a luxury modern mansion, including a kitchen decked out with Silestone surfaces and Miele appliances overlooking ocean views.
In an email to Insider, attorneys Ivan Abrams and Karen Lapekas said their client isn’t “attempting to skirt the laws of property taxation by buying a boat.” “Rather, while shopping for a boat, the Arkup caught his attention as an eco-friendly alternative to gas-guzzling yachts,” their statement read. “He stays on it temporarily from time to time while he is in Miami monitoring the progress of the residence being built on the property where the Arkup is currently docked.” Examples of how environmentally conscious it is includes its rooftop layered with solar panels and a rainwater collection system.
In an interview in 2021, 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 – to people and to the environment.” He added, “Everything is sustainable.”
With Arkup #1, standout features demonstrating the green-energy goal are the solar-paneled rooftop and the rainwater-collecting-and-purifying system, the Miami Herald reported. The home itself with Silestone in the kitchen is also designed specifically to withstand extreme climate-change related weather.
Silestone – Environmentally Friendly
The house isn’t only designed to be environmentally conscious, but it’s also built to withstand climate-change driven extreme weather events such as hurricanes and flooding, a 2018 press release said. “The Arkup is hurricane resistant, flood-adaptive, completely off-the-grid, solar powered and mobile,” Luguet said in the release. Even though it also has all the necessary features of a recreational vessel, and has been designated one by the US Coast Guard, Miami-Dade County officials aren’t convinced.
“The Arkup is registered as a vessel with the State of Florida,” MacKnight International Inc’s attorneys said in their statement to Insider. They added that the four government officials were taken on a two-hour cruise aboard Arkup #1 on February 7, 2022, which they said “undisputedly proved that the vessel was more than ‘capable of transportation and navigation on water.'”
Nonetheless, the Miami Herald reported court documents show that Miami-Dade county officials aren’t convinced. They said that the vessel “was not built to be primarily used as a means of transportation over water.” Whether or not the home is a house or a boat is still in contention — but representatives for the owner say their client is not trying to find a tax loophole.