Sep 202013

As you know we had a meeting with he who shall not be named yesterday to discuss the marina plans and air out some questions.  A lot was answered and the bottom line is we have all been evicted and have just 24 hours to vacate the property…..just kidding.  We have to be out by the end of the month.

No, not really.  In fact the meeting went quite well and eased a lot of our concerns for the short term.  Here are the details:

What has happened so far…

The ramp is undermined badly and will not be replaced.

The storage building was full of vermin and will be coming down, as will the boat house on the north side of the property.  This probably won’t happen anytime soon.

Security cameras have been installed through out the property and the HOA has been approached about possibly installing them on the docks too.

As for the Key cards for the bathhouse.  Two key cards will be issued to each slip owner at a cost of $50 per card.  They will be required as of the first of October to access the showers and laundry.  The owner MUST notify the marina of who the registered tenant is so the tenant can be issued a card or two.  It is up to the owner to decide if they want to pass on the cost of the card to the tenant.  The cards will be such that the marina will be able to keep track of when the card is used and by who.  Once the cards are in place there will be no public access to the bathhouse.  Temporary cards will be available for vessels coming in for fuel and such who may need to use the facilities.  Those cards will be handled by the marina office.  The regular cards can also be picked up in the office.

The marina has purchased a new forklift.

The dumpsters have been moved back into the property away from the entrance to prevent the public from using them.

Eventually there will be gates at the entrance which will stay open during the day and closed at night with a card needed to open.  Not sure if the same card will work as the bathhouse but this will be next year sometime.

There will be a tank for dumping used oil and gas and the county pump out will continue.

He indicates he wants to work with the owners and tenants to improve the property and is working with the HOA on new stuff.

Coming attractions:

The front will be heavily landscaped along the road.

There will be a new restaurant where the old storage/dumpster/boat ramp area is now.  Upstairs will be the restaurant, downstairs offices.  The restaurant will be similar to the Butterfly Cafe at Tranquility Bay Resort.

The new bathhouse is planned to be about where the Sailfish Club building is now.  It is planned to have the showers, laundry, mailboxes, possible lockers, possible freezers for fisherman.  There will be two off loading spots near the docks for tenants to park and unload or load vehicles.

212 parking spaces plan but no assigned parking.  Long term parking for customers out on long charters and such will be back where the racks and trailer parking is now.  No trailer parking at all on property.  There will be stickers for the vehicles.

There will be three pools, available to residents only.  Possibly with three “fire pits” for evening camp style fires.  Access to the pools will be by key card.

Fuel docks will stay put.  Possible new store.

Everything is being planned to stay within the building codes of the property.  No variances are planned.

78 new condos are planned and about 4 or 5 hotel rooms.

52 dry docks will be available

He talked about how the property values and rents have dropped so much over the last few years under the old management.  He wants to bring value back to the owners by making the property more desirable.  He has no desire to attract the day people who would come in and launch from the ramp and only spend $10 to $20 a day.  He wants people to come here and spend lots more.  Use the restaurant and such.  He wants charter business and watersports and similar types of businesses set up so there is stuff to do here.

The big construction is expected to start in a year and be completed a year after that.  The new bathhouse is hoped to up by next Spring

Probably the biggest news was his about face on the subject of live aboards.  The question was directly asked if live aboards were to allowed and he admitted he had read things wrong.  After a “contentious” meeting with the HOA, he relented and changed his mind, so for now, live aboards are safe.  As to how long we can afford to live here will be another matter.

He will be needing to rebuild all the seawalls and redo all the utilities.  As such he is talking to the HOA about any improvements they may want to make regarding the docks.  Since the contractors will be on site anyways, and he can get better pricing he has offered the HOA to do whatever they want at the best possible price.  As to how the HOA will pay for it, through assessments to the owners and tenants, will be up to the HOA.

So there you have it in a nutshell.  For now, we are all safe here.  We will have a place to live for the near term at least but I see some pitfalls in the future.

The construction is going to be a major pain in the ass.  Not so much while out on the dock but getting around the property.  If the HOA does do improvements to the docks, that will be something we will have to deal with.

With all these improvements and amenities and shiny new toys it will mean one other thing….higher rents all around.  There is no way the rents will stay this low once the bills start coming in.  Many of us, including myself will not be able to afford to stay here at the point.  But for now, it looks to be ok.

As for the meeting itself, he was very amiable, answered all questions, and I believe for the most part was telling us the truth.  Basically he wants a high end resort to attract a better class of clientele who will spend more money here and bring up the value of the property for all concerned.  He said it will look like all his other resorts and if someone didn’t like his style, too bad.  When it is finished, assuming no hangups, it will have a lot of appeal to a certain type of crowd.

There was a lot of tension in the room until he cleared the air regarding live aboards and then there was this tremendous sigh of relief from everyone.  At least for the short term we all still have a place to live but make no mistake about it, this marina will quickly become unaffordable once the hammers start to fall.  That gives us about a year to make our plans.

If there was anything that really worried me it was the HOA who was apparently there in force.  Led by some old guy, not sure of the name, I have real doubts about where their priorities sit.  Well, I know where, in the interests of the owners.  Tenants don’t count.  But there was something very unsettling about them.  I could not put my finger on exactly what but I don’t think that in the long run, the HOA is going to be on our side, meaning the live aboard renters side.  Maybe it’s my natural paranoia acting up but I do not trust them.

My cunning plans will continue.  I will try to put together the finances to fix up the Spirit.  First to get it seaworthy.  Then more liveaboardy, then put the cash together to haul out for paint and fixin’s.  All the time keeping an eye on the other marina or the possibility of going on the hook.  I need to be sure because once I leave this marina, I will not be able to return.  For the immediate future, I got a place to stay.  All I need is to build up the business, get some cash flow going, and get the Spirit fixed up.  It won’t take long once the cash is in hand.  Then I can operate from a stronger position and get back in control of things.

Those who don’t follow the true Keys spirit, those who are wealthy and want a semi private enclave to play in, will enjoy the hell out of this place when it’s done.  For the rest of us, it will be just another rich man’s resort, unavailable to the great unwashed.  And for people like me, that is fine.  It’s not my style.  My ideas about Key’s living are in a different world from all this glitz and facade and that is where I intend to sail.

Capt. Fritter

  2 Responses to “Living Aboard: The Meeting…”

  1. Nice to finally have some answers. And some breathing room in which to do all the things you need to do to be ready to move on. Now, take three deep breaths and relax a bit. It all still needs to be done but you have some time now. I’m relieved even if you are not.

    • The urgency is still there, just not as urgent. Talking to others after the meeting we were all in agreement that we have about a year before things really change.
      I will continue with my plans and if things work out I will get out of here as soon as possible.
      C. F.