Dallas-based Suntex is buying a new marina in the Florida Keys with plans to rename it

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Dallas-based Suntex Marina Investors, one of the largest players in the consolidation of the marina industry, expands its portfolio with a purchase in the Florida Keys.

After purchasing The Wharf in Marathon, Fla., Suntex plans to make a “significant investment” and reopen the marina under a new name, Ocean View Marina, the company said Friday. Ocean View will be a full service marina with ship storage, tank dock, boat rental and 165 dry storage racks.

The purchase allows Suntex to expand its presence in the Keys, where the company bought three more marinas last year. The marina is about an hour from Key West and gives boaters access to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

“We are committed to acquiring select locations with tremendous potential to offer guests unique experiences,” said CEO Bryan Redmond in a statement. “We are excited for the opportunity to transform Ocean View into a boater’s favorite marina.”

Investments planned for the property include more dry storage, a new port office, ship storage and boat rentals, spokesman Andrew Golden wrote in an email.

Suntex acquired Westrec in February to create a $2.5 billion company. It owns and operates 51 marinas and operates a further 16 through Westrec. It is backed by investment firms Centerbridge Partners and Resilient Capital Partners.

Dallas-based Safe Harbor Marinas remains the industry’s largest chain, operating more than 100 marinas nationwide.

Boating has seen a surge in popularity since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as Americans turned to socially distant recreational opportunities. According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, recreational boat spending peaked at $56.7 billion in 2021, up 12.7% from 2020.

Florida, Texas and Michigan were the states with the highest spending on recreational boats last year.

Motorboat sales fell in the first quarter of this year compared to 2021, according to the association, but were still higher than before the pandemic.

The pandemic “helped spur demand and attract younger customers,” said Joshua Dennerlein, a real estate investment trust analyst at Bank of America who follows the industry.

“I think the demand will stay that way,” said Dennerlein. “Maybe going forward it won’t be quite as high as it was in 2020 or 21, but there will definitely be increased demand.”

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