Suntex Acquires The Wharf

Suntex Marina Investors last week announced that it acquired The Wharf, a marina in Marathon, Fla., in the Keys. The company plans an extensive renovation of the property, which it plans to relaunch as Ocean View Marina.

“In just the short year that we’ve owned Faro Blanco, we’ve seen the incredible draw of this region, and when we got the opportunity to acquire the facility a mile down the road, we had to take it,” Suntex Marinas investments partner David Filler said in a statement. “We are looking forward to taking the reins and completing the construction.”

In addition to The Wharf and Faro Blanco, the company owns two other marinas in the Keys: Caloosa Cove and Garrison Bight.

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Suntex Marinas Acquires Key West Facility

Suntex Marinas yesterday announced the acquisition of Garrison Bight Marina in Key West, Fla.

The marina has 20 wet slips and 213 dry slips and is located near hotels, restaurants and shopping. Suntex said it is the only full-service marina on the island with dry storage facilities. Amenities include a fuel dock, ship’s store, service department and a Thai restaurant with a deck overlooking the marina.

“This purchase provides Suntex with an excellent opportunity to expand upon our holdings in the Florida Keys and our footprint in the South Florida market,” investment partner David Filler said in a statement. “We are committed to offering our guests a best-in-class experience, and Garrison Bight has incredible potential.”

Filler added that Suntex will make a “significant investment in upgrades” to the marina.

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Suntex Acquires Lynn Creek Marina

The Grand Prairie, Texas, facility is the latest addition to Suntex’s U.S. marina holdings.

Suntex Marina Investors announced yesterday that it purchased Lynn Creek Marina on Joe Pool Lake in Grand Prairie, Texas.

“We are excited to take over a staple on Joe Pool Lake in the heart of the southern Dallas suburbs,” Suntex Marinas vice president of operations Michael Warntjes said in a statement. “We are confident that Lynn Creek will be an excellent reflection of the Suntex experience when completed.”

The marina opened in July 1990 and, after two expansions, comprises 528 slips that can accommodate boats to 50 feet, 116 dry storage stacks for boats to 28 feet, a ship’s store, rental boat fleet, fuel dock, service center, a 450-seat restaurant and a 97-passenger excursion vessel.

“We anticipate infusing some immediate capital to improve the amenities and security for guests, while focusing on long-term development of the entire property,” Warntjes added.

Suntex said it is working with the city of Grand Prairie to revitalize the marina to bring more visitors to Joe Pool Lake.

“Our team is ecstatic to be partnering with the city of Grand Prairie to make Lynn Creek Marina a best-in-class waterfront experience and help bring Joe Pool Lake back into the destination lake the city would like to see for its community,” said Bryan Redmond, CEO, Suntex Marinas. “We love the vision the city and its staff have set forth and are proud to be a part of helping to execute that vision.”

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Top Marina Management Firms Join Forces

Suntex Marina Investors, LLC  announced its transaction to join forces with established marina management company, Westrec Marinas.

One of the world’s largest owner-operators of marinas and marine-related businesses, Westrec Marinas provides professional management services to its properties, affiliates, and clients. Founded in 1987, Westrec owns and manages marina facilities located both in fresh and salt-water environments, handling vessels ranging in size from personal watercraft to megayachts. Management strategies unique to Westrec have been incorporated into its corporate philosophy throughout Westrec’s history. Customer service, its most important product, has remained a core company value since day one.

“Years ago, we realized the many synergies between Westrec Marinas and Suntex,” said Bryan Redmond, CEO, Suntex Marinas. “Westrec Marinas’ vision of offering the best in customer service and amenities, along with a memorable experience out on the water, aligns perfectly with our vision. The most rewarding part of this merger is knowing we now have added another whole network of marinas who share our core values and together we are poised for a fantastic future.”

“We pride ourselves on having the most comprehensive and experienced marina operating team in the business,” said Bill Anderson, president, Westrec Marinas. “Suntex brings significant innovations and more streamlined tools and processes for daily operations. In addition, they have meaningful reporting and financial forecasting with real-time data, a more established communication, and marketing effort, as well as additional capital to invest in repair and maintenance and capital expenditures for major projects at our current marinas. Together we have an unlimited opportunity to grow and prosper.”

“Our Suntex team could not be more encouraged regarding our partnership with Westrec,” said Johnny Powers, chairman of the board, Suntex Marinas. “Westrec’s decision to combine forces with Suntex is proof that relationships, culture, and integrity are paramount.”

“Since partnering with Suntex in March 2021, we have worked to help accelerate the Company’s continued growth,” said William Rahm, senior managing director and head of real estate at Centerbridge Partners and director on Suntex’s Board. “This transaction brings together two leading teams and businesses in the marina sector, where we continue to see significant growth opportunities to serve the increasing demand for boating and leisure activities.”

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Marina Business Gets Lift From Pandemic Boat Sales

Real-estate investor Centerbridge is combining the second- and third-largest marina owners to create a $2.5 billion company.

The second-largest owner of U.S. marinas is acquiring the third-largest owner, creating a new powerhouse in this niche real-estate business as boat sales surge during the pandemic.

Centerbridge Partners LP said it is paying about $400 million for Westrec Marinas, which the investment firm will absorb into its own Suntex Marinas. That will create a combined company with more than 50 marinas that is valued at $2.5 billion, making it the second-highest-valued U.S. marina owner after Safe Harbor Marinas.

Investor interest in the waterside properties started growing in 2019 when marinas gained more favorable tax treatment. Marinas got another boost with the rise in boat sales, which soared during the pandemic with more companies moving to coastal states with warmer climates. Boating also became more popular as a relatively safe way to socialize outdoors, along with camping and hiking.

“People who were [boating] some of the time are doing it more, and others are doing it for the first time,” said Billy Rahm, Centerbridge senior managing director.

Annual U.S. sales of boats, marine products and services totaled $49.3 billion in 2020, up 14% from 2019, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. Powerboat sales in 2021 were expected to surpass 300,000 for a second year in a row after hitting a record in 2020, the association said.

Analysts say the marina business resembles the manufactured-housing and recreational-vehicle industries before institutional investors discovered them and drove prices much higher.

Many institutional investors have viewed marinas as a terrible industry “because they own boats and have realized how much money they’ve sunk into them,” said Josh Dennerlein, an analyst with Bank of America who tracks the industry.

Yet, he added, they should have thought about the flip side and “that someone was making a lot of money to store their boats and maintain them.”

Some big investors became more intrigued with the prospect of owning marinas after the Internal Revenue Service ruled that fees paid for boat slips and boat storage counted as real-estate rents. That gave real-estate investment trusts that owned marinas the same tax benefits as those given to REITs that owned other commercial property.

The aging baby-boomer generation was stoking marina demand, even before the pandemic. More retirees have been spending their leisure time and savings on boating.

New marina construction, meanwhile, has been virtually nonexistent and barriers to new entrants are steep. There are few remaining development sites in sheltered harbors. New marinas would also have to overcome tough environmental regulations and possible community opposition.

“You don’t necessarily want a boat marina next to your beautiful $10 million waterfront home,” Mr. Dennerlein said.

Still, the marina business has its risks. Continued inflation would increase the cost of paying dockhands, boat-maintenance crews and other workers. An economic downturn would likely convince many would-be customers to avoid the cost of storage by keeping their boats in their driveways.

Most of all, analysts said, climate change raises the possibility of more hurricanes and rising sea levels that could upend the boating business. Mr. Rahm said Centerbridge has taken steps to mitigate climate change risks, such as investing in boat-storage locations at higher elevations.

New York-based Centerbridge estimates that there are about 11,000 marinas in the U.S. but most are individually-owned businesses. The industry is ripe for consolidation, Mr. Rahm suggested, because the minor marinas can’t match the investments larger companies like Suntex are making in technology and marketing.

Merger-and-acquisition activity in this specialized sector has picked up during the Covid-19 era and after the tax change. Real-estate investor Sun Communities Inc. acquired the largest operator, Safe Harbor Marinas, in 2020. Centerbridge became Suntex’s largest shareholder last year.

Mr. Rahm said his firm is eyeing other acquisitions as it builds a marina company that it is considering taking public later this year.

Suntex also has been investing in ways to expand marina revenue beyond docking, storage, maintenance, and food-and-beverage services. Many of the company’s marinas offer boat clubs and rentals that make tidy profits while giving non-boat owners a taste of ocean spray, fishing and water sports.

“If they really like it, they end up buying a boat,” Mr. Rahm said. “When they do, they’re highly likely going to keep their boat at a Suntex marina.”

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Sale Announcement | Moby Dick Marina Sold

SVN Marinas is pleased to announce it advised the owners of the Moby Dick Marina on the sale of their business in Fairhaven, MA to a private investment group led by America’s Cup winning sailor, Rome Kirby, and Tristram Worth of VMG Capital.  Founded in 1994 and acquired in 2005 by the Anezis and Zolotas families, the Moby Dick Marina is in a high-visibility location along I-195 in the hurricane barrier protected New Bedford Harbor.  The Marina has a 19,200 SF building with 80 dry-stack slips, 50 in-water slips and 5 moorings. 

Mike Howell, the owner of SVN Safe Haven Advisors and co-Council Chairman of SVN Marinas approached the owners of the Moby Dick Marina about the possibility of selling their marina to capitalize on the robust interest from prospective marina acquirers seeking attractive facilities in the Northeast and across the country. This is the first acquisition for VMG Capital who contacted SVN Marinas in their efforts to develop a larger marina platform.   

SVN Marinas advises on the acquisition and divestiture of marinas, marine properties and marine businesses. SVN Marinas has nearly twenty marina and marine properties publicly listed for sale and numerous other confidential and off-market deals.  For more information about SVN Marinas and available marina opportunities please visit our website.

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Sale Announcement | Sebastian River Marina & Boatyard

David Kendall (SVN | Florida Commercial) advised on the sale of Sebastian River Marina & Boatyard.  We congratulate the new owners and management team on acquiring this unique coastal marina, which is located in a federally designated “Opportunity Zone”.  With it’s close proximity to Sebastian Inlet, Sebastian River Marina & Boatyard is a convenient 120+ slip marina and full service yacht repair facility for boaters from all over Central Florida.  We are excited to see the new owners invest in their vision to build upon the legacy of one of Florida’s most unique coastal marinas.   

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SVN Marinas Advises On The Sale Of Emerald Coast Marine Center To Safe Harbor Marinas

SVN Marinas is pleased to announce it has advised the owners of Emerald Coast Marine Group on the sale of the marina, located in Niceville, FL to Safe Harbor Marinas, a wholly owned subsidiary of publicly listed Sun Communities, Inc. (NYSE: SUI). 

Advising the deal for the seller were David Kendall and Mike Howell, the founding partners of SVN Marinas, a leading marine advisory practice specializing in M&A and business advisory services for marine properties and marine businesses throughout the United States and the Caribbean.

“We congratulate the owners and management team on the sale of this best-in-class marine facility,” said Kendall. “While the price is not disclosed, Emerald Coast Marine Center is one of the largest and most diversified marina complexes in the Florida Panhandle. The leadership team at Emerald Coast had the vision to transform the property from a regional marina into a highly profitable, world class marina complex, which meets the demands and satisfies the recreational boating needs of their customers.”

The Emerald Coast Marine Center is a destination life-style marina on the majestic Emerald Coast of Northwest Florida.  The concept of a marine center provides for a turnkey approach to boat ownership, recreation, storage, and maintenance.  The marina includes a hurricane-rated indoor storage facility accommodating up to 280 boats and 70 wet slips together with a leading regional boat dealership carrying premium brands that include; Beneteau, Blackfin, Crownline, Crest, Crevalle, Hurricane, Key West, Monterey, Nautique, Release, Sea Pro, and Solace.

“David and Mike were instrumental in helping achieve the successful outcome of this transaction,” said Shawn Talpey, President of Emerald Coast. “Together, they are uniquely capable to advise on both marina and marine business transactions that require both market specialization and the sophistication to negotiate complex M&A type marine business transactions.”  

“David and I launched SVN Marinas to provide the transaction expertise required to successfully advise larger and more involved marina and marine transactions requiring both commercial real estate and business expertise,” said Howell.

About SVN & SVN Marinas

SVN is the only national commercial real estate firm with a dedicated marina and marine specialty practice.  SVN Marinas was strategically formed by the merger of U.S. Marina Brokers and Safe Haven Advisors.  Headquartered in Florida and Massachusetts, SVN Marinas is able to transact marinas and marine property anywhere in the United States and Caribbean.  SVN is a leading national commercial real estate firm with more than 200 offices and 1,600 advisors.  For more information on SVN Marinas visit www.svnmarinas.com

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Lippincott Marina Acquired

Chesapeake Whalertowne, a dealership with locations in Grasonville and Annapolis, Md., announced in a statement its acquisition of Lippincott Marine.

The full-service marina is located at Kent Narrows in Grasonville and has 200 slips that can accommodate boats to 70 feet.

A Boston Whaler and Mercury dealer, Chesapeake Whalertowne said the Lippincott acquisition will diversify its revenue streams and increase its presence in the Chesapeake.

“The acquisition of Lippincott Marine is the logical next step in growing our business and supporting our customer base, which represents one of the strongest here on the Chesapeake Bay,” Whalertowne general manager Rick Boulay Jr. said in a statement.

Chesapeake Whalertowne is planning capital improvements and will rename the facility Cedar Point Marina.

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Southern Marinas Acquires Tennessee Property

Southern Marinas Holdings announced in a statement that it has acquired Grand Harbor Condominiums and Marina on Pickwick Lake in Tennessee.

The property is on the Tennessee-Mississippi border, less than a mile from the Alabama state line. Located at the junction of the Tennessee River and the Tombigbee Waterway, the marina attracts boaters cruising the Great Loop.

“Grand Harbor is a unique asset that attracts boaters and vacationers from a broad demographic area,” Gary Rosmarin, principal with Southern Marinas, said in a statement. “By the addition of Grand Harbor, our portfolio now extends its geographic footprint from the Northwest, through the Midwest, into the Southeast.”

The full-service marina includes covered slips, condo rentals, a rental fleet, a ship’s store, fuel dock, a lakeside pool, tennis courts and a fitness center and spa.

Grand Harbor is Southern Marinas’ sixth acquisition this year.

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