By Melissa Eichman, Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, September 2, 2010
Clearwater — Just a few years ago, it was hard to find a place to park a boat near Downtown Clearwater because of a dearth of boat slips.
Now, thanks to a new marina opening, even in the midst of a bad economy, there are plenty of slips to fill. A ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday morning officially opened the marina.
Clearwater boater Al Albert was one of the first to tie up to the new marina.
“I think we’re looking for a new experience and it was new,” Albert said. “We’re intrigued by the idea of just having a good quality marina with new power and nice new docks that were well maintained, also the security.”
A few years ago, boaters like Albert had a hard time finding places to dock.
“There weren’t that many boat slips, you didn’t have a lot to chose from,” Albert said. “And the slips that you did have, there was no security to know it was even going to be there for a year or years to come.”
With a brand new facility opening up in the midst of a bad economy, how high is the demand for docks now?
Mayor Frank Hibbard says it’s slower than anticipated.
“When we passed this referendum in 2006, boat slips were going for anywhere from $150,000 to $250,000 and there was a real demand,” Hibbard said. “Obviously, we’re somewhat a victim of timing but I know eventually that market is going to come back.”
About 40 of the 126 permanent slips are currently reserved. There’s also space for transient boaters and free daily tie-ups.
Grant Wood with Water’s Edge Condo Towers said he’s already seeing an economic impact downtown.
“It creates a destination place and you’re going to see a lot of activity with additional restaurants and retailers downtown,” Wood said. “It’s going to drive additional residential sales I think downtown, so putting that whole package together really created a great lifestyle for downtown.”