Construction of the new facility for overnight boaters at the Gulfport Municipal Marina is finished.
The walls are painted, the carpet is installed, the landscaping is in place, and the stunning views from the second floor are awaiting customers to admire them. Just one thing is missing: the furniture.
That’s expected to arrive in a few weeks and the official ribbon cutting will likely take place next month, Harbormaster Denis Frain said Friday, December 2. The Gabber toured the new facility with Frain that day to bring readers a sneak peek before the formal grand opening.
The 2,500-square-foot upstairs of the two-story structure includes an office for the harbormaster and a lounge, bathrooms, showers and observation area for overnight patrons. The open area below is for tour-boat guests waiting for their charters.
Next door, the old marina office and retail store have been overhauled into one open 500-square-foot room with higher ceilings, new countertops and shelving, and a separate desk for administrative business.
Construction began in January. The deadline for finishing the new building was October 1, and it was completed on time, Frain said. The work was done by Tisdale Construction Inc. of Gulfport. The contract price was $673,500, which was exceeded by $10,000, he said.
Money for the project came from the Penny for Pinellas funding program as well as a one-time transfer from the city’s General Fund that the marina has started repaying from revenues, City Manager Jim O’Reilly said Tuesday, December 6.
“I am excited about the continuing evolution of the city’s marina and the improvements that continue to attract boating visitors to the city – while serving as a community anchor to the surrounding neighborhood and the city as whole,” O’Reilly said.
The new facility is part of Gulfport’s long-term vision for making the boating community an increasingly larger part of the city’s economy. A new online booking system introduced in the past year has already had a big impact on the number of visitors, Frain said.
“We’re 100% full,” he said. “And we’ve seen an increase in our transient business due to our online reservation system. Tie that in with our new building and I see great things to come in the future.”
Frain, who began his career in the marina more than 30 years ago, said the next big marina project being considered would upgrade the city-owned land between the marina basin and Boca Ciega Bay and create more resort-like public green space. Such a project is still in the concept stages and might cost around $4 million. The blueprints can be seen at facebook.com/MarinaProjectTracker/ or mygulfport.us/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Marina-2-2016-09-26-Presentation.pdf.
“I hope to see that happen before I retire in 10 years,” he added.