Mayor selects group to reimagine St. Pete Municipal Marina

Via St. Pete Rising

The aging 640-slip St. Pete Municipal Marina is one step closer to undergoing a major overhaul.

Mayor Ken Welch has selected Safe Harbor Marinas LLC for the redevelopment and operational management of the marina adjacent to the St. Pete Pier, according to City Development Administrator James Corbett.

The selection comes in response to the city’s Request for Proposal (RFP), which was published in April 2023. In addition to Safe Harbor Marinas, the city received a proposal from Dallas-based Suntex Marina Investors.

 Welch informed city staff of his selection in mid-December and directed the team to begin the negotiation process with the Safe Harbor Marinas group this month.

The mayor holds the authority to select a developer; however, the contract must go before the City Council for approval. Corbett said the City Council is expected to review the finalized contractual terms with Safe Harbor Marinas by this spring.

“Prior to this selection in late December, Mayor Welch and city staff conducted a comprehensive review and analysis of RFP submissions from both Safe Harbor Marinas and Suntex Marina Investors, which included market proposals, financial data, and responses to specific criteria for the redevelopment and operation management of the St. Petersburg Marina,” Corbett said.

“Ongoing self-development and support were also considered by city staff members as they weighed utilizing the city’s extensive resources to potentially redevelop the marina.”

Safe Harbor Marinas’ latest plan entails a $48 million capital investment for the renovation and new assets such as a two-story welcome and amenity center, a fitness facility, and flexible dock space to accommodate more than 325 boats.

Commercial and recreational users, and those living aboard their boats, have voiced concerns about potential rent increases a private operator may charge to help cover the renovation costs.

Safe Harbor Marinas’ proposal does not disclose the planned slip rental rates, but the city would collect a cut of the revenue.

The RFP included an option of steering a new future for the 2,600-square-foot building at 300 Second Avenue NE, which houses Fresco’s, a longtime staple of downtown’s restaurant scene; however, the city has decided to issue a separate bid solicitation later this year.

The city has long discussed the needed repairs and facelift for the marina, which spans across the Central and South Yacht Basins. The marina bulkheads were constructed in the 1910’s and 1920’s, the Central Yacht Basin docks were built in 1963, and four of the five South Yacht Basin docks were constructed in 1977.

Although the marina’s facilities have been maintained over the decades, the infrastructure has reached the end of its service life.

In 2017, the city completed a Marina Master Plan, which highlighted the framework of a renovation plan.

Former Mayor Rick Kriseman previously selected Safe Harbor Development – a different entity than Safe Marina Harbors – to oversee the marina, but the City Council ultimately rejected the proposed 25-year lease agreement.

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