Marina operators embracing alternative revenue stream

PORT CLINTON, Ohio and DELTAVILLE, Va. – You can call them floating homes, house barges or houseboats, but either way the sale of these on-water residences seems to be a growing trend among marina operators.

Two floating home communities were recently launched at the Cleveland Boat and Waterfront Lifestyle Expo, according to an article today in the Toledo Blade. And one created by Bay Marine in Deltaville, Va. is making wakes in its local community, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported in an article yesterday.

In Port Clinton, the two communities are intended to create an increase in revenues during a time when high gas prices and poor economic conditions have hurt the region’s marina businesses, according to the newspaper.

As waterfront land prices continue to escalate nation-wide, the floating homes also open up the on-water lifestyle to those who would otherwise be priced out of the market, the newspaper added.

One of the Port Clinton developments – Coastal Marine II – is planned to initially consist of 40 homes starting at $135,000 with 630 square feet of living space. The other, at Lakefront Marina, will begin with 13 homes starting at $100,000 and 460 square feet. In both cases, the houses sit on docking systems secured to the lakebed.

The 11 Aqua Lodges sold by Barry Miller and Darlene Walden and kept at Miller’s Bay Marine facility in Virginia are similar in concept to the floating homes being marketed in Ohio.

Made by Catamaran Cruisers of Nashville, Tenn., they sell for $60,000 apiece and are like houseboats but often lack an engine – though there is a place for one to be attached. The other differentiating factor, according to the newspaper, is that flushing their waste overboard, the Aqua Lodges have holding tanks, the contents of which are emptied into the marina’s sewage lines.

Despite their lack of pollution, the floating homes have been attracting the wrong kind of attention from state regulators, who are concerned the residences – marketed at weekend getaways – may turn into permanent homes for some and be moved to environmentally sensitive areas or in front of waterfront communities, the newspaper reported. It noted that Virginia’s concern over the floating homes isn’t very different from other states’ struggles over how to regulate liveaboards.

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