Canada’s newest marina, Milltown Marina, sits on the outskirts of downtown Vancouver, B.C. in a well-protected basin on the North Arm of the Frasier River.
The marina’s story is not that different from other Greenfield projects, and it’s actually the commonalities that it shares with other projects that makes it an interesting case study. Milltown started out the way many new marina projects do with a vision for the site, then a concept design and finally a layout for the docks followed by an issuance of a Request for Proposal (RFP).
Like a growing number of Greenfield marina projects, the response to the RFP is where the Milltown project deviated from its original course. The original plan was to get bids from dock builders to supply the docks that when assembled in the water by a general contractor would make up the configuration shown in the original drawing. The anchoring system would be supplied and installed by a third party and the utilities and accessory packages would be handled separately. This approach was designed to cut out any middlemen and avoid extra markups. In theory, the concept makes sense. The problem is that the modern marina is a complex web of interconnected systems that is most often best approached as a single system by a marina builder who specializes in the design/build of marina systems and who can take advantage of economies of scale. This is where the real savings happens.
If you’ve ever been involved in a laborious permitting and funding process you know all too well the feeling of victory and the heavy sigh of relief that comes once you receive your final OK to proceed. You’ll also know that without an iron will and a true passion for what you’re doing you’ll likely be eaten alive.
Anyone who’s spent much time at all with Mark Sandoval, Long Beach Marine Bureau Manager knows he’s a man of integrity and determination. After 10 years of planning and three years of delays, Sandoval received his final OK from Long Beach City Council to move forward with the first phase of his planned $90 million dollar renovation of Alamitos Bay Marina in Long Beach, CA.
Building or renovating a marina can be, and usually is, a long and complicated process. One of the major obstacles these days is the permitting procedure. In order to obtain the necessary permits to move forward a good deal of time and money is required to complete concept designs, impact studies and environmental assessments.
Permit approval brings a developer only to the starting line of a project and the next stage will usually involve a complicated mix of marina consultants, architects, engineers, contractors, sub-contractors and a whole host of “experts”. Apart from the obvious cost of all these experts, a huge amount of the developer’s time is required to define their input, coordinate their work and assess their recommendations. The result of this process is a specification or tender document, which is then sent out to various marina construction companies who spend more time and money reworking the designs to suit their particular dock systems. This can involve cutting corners and interpreting specifications to allow the very minimum possible so as to ensure a competitive bid.
This is not an ideal situation for a developer who wants a quality marina. There is no doubt that this tried and tested system works; however, it comes at a cost of both time and money.