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Marina Development Trends: Navigating the Future of Global Marina Innovations

The marine industry, particularly marina development, stands at the cusp of a transformative era. With the rise of private equity investments, technological advancements, and changing consumer behaviors, the landscape of marina development is evolving at an unprecedented pace. Below are insights from Jason Spalding from The Evolution of Marinas podcast Interview

The Rise of Private Equity in Marina Development

“There’s a significant push for consolidation in the marina sector. Due to this consolidation, fewer marinas are available on the market, and those that do come up are quickly acquired.”

In recent years, the marina sector has witnessed an influx of private equity investments. These institutions, with their vast financial resources, are providing funds for new developments, leading to a “REIT up” in the sector. This trend is reminiscent of what happened in the RV park space, where regional owner-operators created portfolios and then expanded internationally. Such investments have been a game-changer for many marina developers, enabling them to undertake larger and more ambitious projects, thereby reshaping the marina landscape.

The Importance of Relationships in Real Estate

“No matter what the asset class is, you need to be a person that’s capable, a little bit outgoing, and be able to build relationships. It’s a relationship industry.”

The real estate industry, irrespective of the asset class, thrives on relationships. Building and maintaining relationships with both owners and investment groups is crucial. It’s about being top-of-mind and being the go-to person when opportunities for acquisitions or sales arise. In the marina sector, these relationships can make or break deals, influence partnerships, and determine the success of a project.

The Trend of Marina Consolidation

Consolidation is not a new phenomenon in the business world. However, its impact on the marina sector has been profound. As fewer marinas become available on the market, those that do emerge are quickly snapped up, leading to a competitive and fast-paced environment. This trend has led to significant shifts in ownership patterns, with larger entities acquiring smaller marinas to expand their portfolios.

The Push for Automation and Technology

“There’s this big push towards dry stack automation… you’re getting typically anywhere between 30 to 40 percent more vessels in the same building size ground level building size.”

One of the most groundbreaking developments in the marina sector is the push for automation, especially in dry stack storage. Automated systems, essentially boat skyscrapers, allow for more efficient use of space, accommodating more vessels in the same footprint. This technology is particularly beneficial in areas where land is at a premium.

Additionally, there’s a growing emphasis on leveraging technology to enhance the boating experience. From boat clubs that offer memberships for boat access to digital platforms that streamline operations, technology is playing an increasingly central role in the marina industry.

The Global Perspective on Marina Development

While the U.S., particularly Florida, remains a hotspot for marina development, there’s a global push for new projects. Consulting and engineering firms focused on marina development are busier than ever, working on projects worldwide. This international perspective ensures that the marina industry remains vibrant, innovative, and responsive to global trends and demands.

The Future of Marinas

Looking ahead, several factors will shape the future of marinas:

  • Public-Private Partnerships (P3s): There’s a growing trend of public entities partnering with private firms to develop and operate marinas. These partnerships can lead to improved facilities and better management practices.
  • Boat Clubs: With more people interested in boating but not necessarily wanting to own a boat, boat clubs offer an attractive solution. These clubs provide members access to a fleet of boats, offering an entry point into the world of boating.
  • International Expansion: As the U.S. market becomes more saturated, marina developers are looking internationally for growth opportunities.

The marina development sector is in a state of flux, driven by investment, technology, and changing consumer behaviors. As the industry continues to evolve, those who can adapt and innovate will thrive in this dynamic environment. The future promises exciting developments, and the marina industry is poised to embrace these changes head-on.

Merrill Charette

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