Remembering the Goofy Floating Mansion That Escaped Property Tax and Authorities by Sea

Remembering the Goofy Floating Mansion That Escaped Property Tax and Authorities by Sea
Contributor: Lawrence Hodge and Zachariah Kelly

What appears to be a floating home in Miami’s Biscayne Bay isn’t actually a house.

An earlier version of this article reported news that a famed Miami property was being pursued for property taxes by the county, which was originally reported by the Miami Herald.

The houseboat in Miami is called the Arkup #1 and was manufactured by a company with the same name, that specialises in what they call “livable yachts” and floating islands. The company’s founders, who built the #1, see it as a solution to climate change, among other things:

“The Arkup #1 was built in Miami by Nicolas Derouin and Arnaud Luguet, two French engineers who live in South Florida and dedicated themselves to renewable energy and environmental preservation amid the threat of climate change and sea-level rise.”

It is environmentally friendly, featuring things like a rainwater collection system and solar panels. It was purchased by British businessman Jonathan Brown’s company MacKnight International for $US3.3 million (about $5 million AUD) in 2021. Despite floating in the bay since Brown’s purchase, Miami-Dade County decided to label the Arkup #1 a “floating structure.” The result was a potential property tax bill of $US120,000 (about $166,584 AUD).

Brown’s lawyers argued that the house is registered as a ship with the U.S. Coast Guard. Brown and his legal team filed suit against the county.

“We believe the sole reason our client is in this position — an unconstitutional tax assessment — is because of the shape and the style and the look of this boat,” said attorney Ivan Abrams, who represents the boat’s owner, MacKnight International Inc.

“If it were designed like any other yacht, we don’t think we’d be in this position.”

But in June 2022, as the Miami Herald again reported, the houseboat avoided the taxes altogether, with the County property appraiser’s office dropping its case.

“The County’s decision to withdraw the illegal tax is a major victory not only for our client — but for all boat owners in Florida,” lawyers from MacKnight International added.

“We are grateful our client had the courage to speak truth to power in court and thus may have prevented further such taxation against other yacht owners.”

Hell yeah dude, you go with your floating structure houseboat.

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