It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Hidden Harbor Marina’s $9 million renovation project.
First, there was the recession.
Then, there was the BP oil disaster.
And, now, after more than six years, Hidden Harbor Marina is just weeks away from reopening.
“There were a lot of hurdles,” said Spencer Dunford, general manager of Hidden Harbor Marina. “There was the recession, and we didn’t know if all of the Gulf waters would be shut down because of the oil spill.”
Dunford said he expects the marina to open in about four to six weeks.
“We’re already accepting applications for rental slips,” Dunford said.
The marina’s current owners bought the property in 2004. According to Dunford, the site was “dilapidated” prior to the renovations; the property sat vacant throughout the project.
The revamped marina, which can accommodate boats up to 40 feet, will give area boaters a new storage option within a rapidly crowded market due to rebounding boat sales in the wake of the recession.
Sarasota County marinas are, on average, about 90% to 95% full. This lack of storage space parallels a nationwide resurgent in the boat-sales market.
Hidden Harbor Marina, located on south U.S. 41 near Vamo Road, will have several hundred indoor dry storage spots available for rent, along with outdoor options.
The marina’s concierge services will give boaters the option of calling ahead to put their boat in the water, gas it up and fill the ice box; engine flushing and cleaning services are available on return.
The marina will also have on-site boat sales and service, a ship’s store, and plans are in the works for a restaurant.
Freedom Boat Club will also operate from the marina.
“We want it to be a unique experience,” Dunford said. “It’s all about worry-free boating.”
It will take boaters about five minutes to reach the Intracoastal Waterway from Hidden Harbor, and Gulf access is 40 minutes away.
Dunford said he would support a measure to reopen Midnight Pass, saying the move would improve water quality in the bay and help his bottom line.
“If Midnight Pass opened, we’d be the busiest marina in town,” Dunford said. “But the biggest benefit is that it would clean out the water. It gets really stagnant away from the Gulf passes. We’re going to really push and do what we can to help the cause.”
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