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Vancouver homes, resorts make use of floating concrete islands

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by Pat Brennan last update:Oct 29, 2007

Truck driver Jerry Moyes had two dreams. One was to bring the Stanley Cup to the Arizona desert. The other was to build the world’s largest floating concrete island.
The world's largest floating island, in Lake Powell, Colorado was largely assembled by Navajo trades workers. A luxury restaurant and marina built on the island opened in May.
The world's largest floating island, in Lake Powell, Colorado was largely assembled by Navajo trades workers. A luxury restaurant and marina built on the island opened in May.

Innovation

VANCOUVER

Truck driver Jerry Moyes had two dreams. One was to bring the Stanley Cup to the Arizona desert. The other was to build the world’s largest floating concrete island.

To help fulfill one dream he teamed up with Wayne Gretzky and bought the Phoenix Coyotes. And to help achieve his other dream, he turned to Vancouver builder Dan Wittenberg.

Gretzky and Moyes are still chasing their joint Stanley Cup dream, but the concrete island Moyes imagined is now floating in Lake Powell, a spectacular 186-mile-long lake created in the Arizona desert by damming up the Colorado River.

Wittenberg built the one-acre concrete island – the largest in the world – to support a luxurious restaurant and a full-scale marina service building for Moyes’ $80 million Antelope Point Marina on Lake Powell.

From his floating island Moyes rents out elaborate houseboats at $1,650 US/day for vacationers to cruise amidst the stunning scenery of towering mesas and box canyons with 1,000-foot-high walls of red rock.

The 27,000-square-foot floating island was built using 2,592 tons of concrete and rebar, wrapped around 122,000 cubic feet of styrofoam. It is anchored 30 feet off shore near Page, Arizona and is accessible via floating concrete ramps.

Moyes, 63, had one truck in 1966 when he started his trucking firm and called it Swift. Today he has more than 18,000 transports in the largest private trucking firm in America.

Wittenberg was a Vancouver builder who wanted a home on the waterfront, but even back in 1981, waterfront properties in the Vancouver area were prohibitively expensive.

So, Wittenberg decided to create his own waterfront by building a home that would float on the water. Its floating concrete front sidewalk gives him access to terra firma. That was the start of International Marine Flotation Systems, which today is building floating concrete homes on waterfronts throughout the world.

The land abutting Lake Powell and the floating island is Navajo territory and Wittenberg hired mostly Navajo trades to build his 13 concrete platforms on shore and then attach them into a contiguous piece after they were lifted into the lake.

“The Navajo trades had never built concrete platforms like this before, but we had an extensive training session and we were soon in production. They did a superb job,” said Wittenberg, who is off to Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates this week to talk with investors about adding floating concrete homes to that booming shoreline on the Persian Gulf.

last update:Oct 29, 2007

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