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A welcome mat for the megayacht crowd

Newport club will offer slips up to 500 feet and resort-style residences that cost as much as $2 million

Newport club will offer slips up to 500 feet and resort-style residences that cost as much as $2 million

It might not be long before yachts the size and caliber of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s 453-foot Rising Star could be frequenting the waters around Newport, R.I.

The O’Neill Properties Group, the developer that has been transforming Portsmouth, R.I.’s former Kaiser Aluminum factory into a 21-story luxury condominium tower, has purchased Aquidneck Island’s Hood Marina property, and plans to develop it into a 1,500-slip marina to be named Newport Club.

“Our dream of transforming the entire west side of Aquidneck Island into a luxury yachting and living experience is now a reality,” says Brian O’Neill, founder and chairman of Prussia, Pa.-based O’Neill Properties Group (, in a statement. “Boat buyers seek first-class environments in which to dock their boats and enjoy leisure activities. The Newport Club will provide this for local, national and international yacht owners.”

The Hood Marina property consists of 44.5 acres of vacant waterfront property on Narragansett Bay as well as 100 acres that extend into the cove.

The O’Neill Properties Group purchased the property from boat designer Ted Hood. The property is located adjacent to Hood’s Portsmouth Marine.

In the late 1980s, Hood moved his boatbuilding and design facility from Marblehead, Mass., to a former navy fuel depot in Portsmouth, where he built the largest yacht yard, design and building operation in the state.

Plans for the Newport Club call for 1,495 slips ranging up to 500 feet, the company says. The club will also feature a number of retail shops, restaurants, waterfront residences and marine-related facilities. With the large slip sizes and resort-style residences — set to sell between $395,000 and $2 million — O’Neill Properties Group executives believe the club will attract more megayacht traffic to the area and generate $1 billion in sales for the local economy.

“The development of this property is enormous, economically, for the region,” says John Goswell, an attorney who represented Ted Hood in the sale of the marina, in an interview with Soundings. “There is a great need for marinas in Rhode Island and in New England. The type of big yachts this marina will attract will bring big budgets here, and will help attract a number of international sailing events.”

In recent years owners of large boats have been able to tie up at a limited number of facilities around Newport, including the Newport Shipyard and Casey’s Marina at SpringWharf. A full-service repair facility, the Newport Shipyard has docks up to 300 feet and can accommodate larger yachts on moorings. Shipyard owner Charlie Dana says he is supportive of the Newport Club development, although he hopes it doesn’t detract from his business.

“[The Newport Club] will definitely bring more money into the local economy,” Dana writes in an e-mail to Soundings. “I’m all for the development, if it’s done right. My hope is that it will be. Brian [O’Neill] loves boats, and my sense is that he ‘gets it.’ ”

The Newport Club will be located only minutes from the private resort community called the Carnegie Abbey Club ( ), where O’Neill Properties is developing an abandoned aluminum factory into a 21-story, 80-unit luxury condominium high-rise called the Carnegie Tower. Overlooking Narragansett Bay, the Carnegie Abbey Club features a golf course, spa and equestrian facilities. Upon its completion, the tower will include a 24-hour concierge service, a fitness center and a 25-meter pool, the company says.