Hot boat market spurs N.C. marina expansions
By Kevin Maurer
Atlantic Marine President David Floyd gets calls daily from people asking about open boat slips at his Wilmington marina, which has 180 dry-storage slots and four wet slips. “We’ve surpassed the pre-recession,” Floyd says. “We’ve got a waiting list of over 50 boats.” With the explosion of boat sales, Port City area marinas are expanding as they try to meet demand for storage.
Powerboat sales increased more than 6% last year, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which represents the nation’s recreational boat industry. More boats, engines and trailers are sold in North Carolina than all but five other states, with N.C. boat owners spending nearly $635 million in 2016, up 9.4% from two years earlier.
“It’s likely we will reflect on this period as a golden age for our economy and our industry,” says Thom Dammrich, the group’s president. “Looking ahead, 2017 is likely to bring new dollar and unit sales gains on par with or better than 2016, and this trend will likely continue through 2018.”
“Families are spending a little money on something everyone can do,” Floyd says. “It is a clean, healthy family activity.”
The uptick in sales means marinas are investing in expansions and upgrades. Wrightsville Beach Marina recently completed almost $4 million in renovations, according to the Greater Wilmington Business Journal. The wooden dock system was replaced by concrete, and the marina’s 100 slips are full.
For the past three years, David Pierce, owner of Carolina Beach Marina & Boat Yard, has been working to expand his marina. His plans call for a three-story, 53-slip dry-stack facility and an office and workshop.
Pierce says many boat owners prefer dry-stack boat storage, which he says is more user-friendly. “Just call and we put it in the water.”
The town of Carolina Beach’s planning and zoning officials have signed off on the plans, but Pierce still needs approval from the town council. He said it will be at least three months before he can break ground on the expansion.
Forty-one percent of North Carolina’s 553 towns experienced population decline from 2010-16, according to a report from the UNC Carolina Population Center. Three-fourths of towns declined or grew slower than the overall state growth rate of 6.4%. The northeast has been hit hardest: The 10 towns losing residents at the fastest rates are in Bertie, Northampton and Washington counties, which have large numbers of elderly residents.
Towns with fastest decline:
|1||Lewiston Woodville (Bertie)||-10%|
Towns with the largest net population loss:
|2||Rocky Mount (Edgecombe, Nash)||-2,258|
|4||Elizabeth City (Pasquotank)||-709|
|5||Roanoke Rapids (Halifax)||-583|
source: UNC Carolina Population Center
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