The marina at the foot of the PGA Boulevard bridge is in line for an $80 million overhaul.
For boaters, it means 57 more dry storage docks, a 15 percent expansion. And, to satisfy neighbors worried about the way exposed boats look, nearly all the boats will be indoors, some stacked on racks five levels high.
For patrons of the neighboring River House restaurant, it means an end to the confusing entry road it shares with the marina. A new road dedicated to the restaurant will run along the property’s north side.
The plan, submitted by PGA Marina owner, Port 32 of Charleston, S.C., won unanimous support Tuesday from the Palm Beach Gardens Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board. It next goes before the City Council.
Port 32 (the 32 refers to the latitude for Charleston) owns nine Florida marinas. It paid $16.8 million for the 7.5-acre Gardens site in July 2021.
“This will be our flagship property,” CEO Austin Schell told the planning board. “It truly will be one of the nicest marinas on the eastern seaboard.”
The marina stores boats, caring for them before and after outings and hoisting them to the water by forklift when boat owners want to take them out.
They’re not the 100- and 200-foot-long superyachts found at the Safe Harbor Rybovich repair yard in Riviera Beach, where an expansion plan is stalled by neighborhood opposition.
But both projects fit into the trend of growth in marinas, service yards and showrooms to accommodate a booming population taking advantage of larger boats and a continued devotion to recreational water activities.
Boat sales are an economic engine and they lead to other transactions, from specialty equipment to insurance, that further drives the economy, Port 32 wrote in its application to the city.
Palm Beach Gardens’ comprehensive plan encourages marinas along the Intracoastal Waterway, Port 32’s land planner Ken Tuma told the planning board.
“There aren’t many working waterfronts left. This is an important asset to keep,” he said.
Swipe right to see more pictures of the marina.
Marina dates to the 1970s
Many of the buildings that will be demolished date to the 1970s, when the marina stood alone along the waterfront before the Soverel family began selling adjoining property.
To the north along the water stands the River House restaurant. To the west is the glistening Soverel Harbor Marina.
Both marinas share an entrance with the Harbour Financial Center, a shopping plaza featuring Carmine’s Gourmet Market.
Currently, restaurant and marina customers share an entry road that splits at a cavernous boat storage building that often has heavy lifts driving in and out.
The new configuration, which planners said took years to spell out, calls for marina traffic to turn off first, at a right turn dedicated to the marina customers about six car lengths off of PGA Boulevard.
The entry road will continue north before it branches off in a Y-shape with a right turn for restaurant patrons and a left turn for Soverel Harbor customers.
A second access point on PGA, closer to the drawbridge, will be moved 50 feet west to ease congestion near the bridge. It is for westbound PGA traffic turning right to enter or right to exit.
Swipe right to see more renderings of the new marina.
471 boat slips overall
The plan calls for erecting three buildings in phases so that operations can continue during construction. In all, the site will have 471 boat slips.
A ship’s store and offices, totaling less than 5,000 square feet, will be built along the water next to the fueling station.
A second building, offering a 26,500-square-foot retail showroom and storage for 176 boats, will rise immediately east of the PGA Boulevard entrance.
On the site’s west side, the third building will offer 251 storage spaces and 12 service bays. Designs are by Bultman Architecture of Fort Lauderdale.
Twelve outdoor slips will remain between the first two buildings. And 20 wet slips will remain mostly on the north side, along with construction of a new floating dock wrapping the entire site, including the restaurant.
Port 32 conducted a study to make sure the new buildings wouldn’t cast a shadow over its neighbors. The tallest building will be 83 feet, which is 20 feet less than the tallest structures at the Ritz-Carlton Residences rising south of PGA Boulevard and east of the Intracoastal Waterway.
The council will be asked to approve several waivers but no one opposed the plan before the planning board.
©2023 Joel Engelhardt. All rights reserved.