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June 22, 2018

Marine Industries

Trendsetters: Marine Industries

Mike Vogel | 8/1/2007

Marina Converter

Talking to Steeven Knight, you feel you walked into the middle of an argument over the merits of his brainchild, the Yacht Clubs of the Americas. He’s non-stop on everything about his business: The benefits of owning vs. renting dock space, of preserving access to the water through private ownership, etc.

Steeven Knight
[Photo: Nick Adams]

Yacht Clubs of the Americas, CEO, Fort Myers

Lineage: One ancestor was the first lighthouse tender in Pompano Beach; his grandfather was born in the lighthouse. His father fished commercially at age 8 and grew up to be a yacht captain.
Boyhood near Pompano at a legendary restaurant: “I used to fish through the holes in the floor in the kitchen. Those were in the days when they were serving green sea turtle.”

Knight buys marinas, upgrades the amenities, converts them to condo ownership and sells the wet slips and dry racks. He’s done it in Sanibel and Destin and expects to open in New Smyrna, Fort Myers, Tampa, Key West, Clearwater, Naples, Stuart and Jacksonville by early next year. He has a partnership with Grand Bahama Yacht Club in the Bahamas and is entering a joint venture for as many as 10 more clubs from Mississippi to the Panhandle. All told, he has 4,000 dry racks and 450 wet slips in development, inventory or sold. Wet slips start at $6,500 per linear foot. Dry racks begin at $125,000 for a 30-foot boat.

Knight, 50, says he’s responding to the loss of marina space to residential developers. “What we did is create a mechanism that preserves a marina,” he says.

To anyone who argues that he’s taking rental slips off the market, he answers that his owners can always rent their spaces out or sell them.

Buy and Hold

Ray Graziotto

“My daddy once said the only problem with selling something is you don’t own it anymore.” So says , 40, co-owner with J.C. Solomon II, 55, of the Jupiter-based Loggerhead Club & Marina chain. He was explaining why they adopted the buy-and-hold model for their 10 marinas totaling 2,500 wet slips and dry racks. Loggerhead touts its yacht club benefits and reciprocal dockage with leases. Graziotto and Solomon have their sights set on building out in Florida and the Bahamas before moving to the Texas coast and lower Southeast coast.

Tags: Trendsetters, North Central

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