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Dockominium offers glimpse of ‘the future’

A yacht club with benefits of slip ownership, NewSmyrnaYachtHarbour may be the way of the future in Florida for marina storage.

A yacht club with benefits of slip ownership, NewSmyrnaYachtHarbour may be the way of the future in Florida for marina storage.

New Smyrna, scheduled to open at end of summer 2008, is offering slips for sale — $90,000 to $200,000 for a dry slip, depending on size.

The club also plans to charge monthly dues for amenities like a martini and cigar lounge; spa, fitness center and swimming pool;

concierge service; fuel, beverages and deli food at wholesale prices, and reciprocal privileges at other clubs in Florida and the Bahamas that are in the Yacht Clubs of the Americas chain.

None of this comes cheap, but it is the coming reality given the cost of waterfront today, the high taxes on it and a growing shortage of available land for marinas, says Scott Miller, a partner in the company that is developing the New Smyrna club and its marketing director.

“This is the future,” he says. “It is the only model that works anymore to afford people deep-water access.”

Located on Florida’s East Coast on 4.2 acres just south of NewSmyrnaBeach’s north causeway, the club is expected to have 240 to 250 dry slips for boats up to 45 feet and 20 wet slips for yachts to 130 feet. Slips are for sale as real estate, with buyers taking fee-simple title to their slip. Owners pay property tax on the slip just like any other real estate, but the slip also can appreciate like real estate and an owner can rent it out. Lease holders receive the same club benefits as a slip owner, except reciprocal club privileges, says Miller.

Slip holders will be able to call up in advance to have the boat fueled, sandwiches and beverages from the kitchen in the cooler, and the boat at the dock ready to go when they arrive. When they get back to the dock, staff will wash the boat down for them and put it away.

“If you want six hours on the water, you get it,” Miller says. “There’s no prep and no clean-up.”

He says interest for slips has been brisk even at the low end of the dry stack market. The club has set aside 60 dry slips for boats 18 to 30 feet for a “modest” cost of $89,000 to $90,000 per slip. Miller hadn’t opened those slips for sale yet, but already he had a waiting list of several hundred prospects. Slips sell by a boat’s square footage, taking into account its length, beam and height. A slip for a 45-footer with 15-foot beam and 16-foot height was fetching $203,000, he says.

Four local partners — Miller, principal owner Frank Schaaf, John Lloyd, the project manager, Jay Wilson, the comptroller — are developing the club as a locally owned franchise of Yacht Clubs of the Americas, which has similar clubs to New Smyrna built or under development in Key West, Naples, Sanibel, Tampa, Stuart, Fort George and Grand Bahama Island. “We are moving at a rapid pace [expanding the YCOA chain] because every day the cost of marinas is going up,” says Steeven Knight, founder of the YCOA chain. “The old business model of the mom-and-pop marina isn’t working anymore.” He believes his business model of slip ownership and club membership is one of the few that can sustain a marina these days on prime waterfront.