Whatever happened after Marina del Rey’s Boat Central lease option wasn’t granted?

Technology exists to engineer mammoth, automated dry storage facilities for boats but won’t be green-lit in Marina del Rey any time soon.

MARINA DEL REY — One could assume, with a working project name like Boat Central, plans for a dry storage facility from years past would have been a grand one – but for so many dangerous implications, as shared by boaters and industry professionals.

Marina del Rey, since the turn of the century, had high hopes for a large boat storage facility. After the public had considerably strong feelings against the project, the developer working on the project, dubbed Boat Central, was not granted a lease.

Boat Central originally had begun a commercial development proposal in 1991, but the operation expanded in 2003. The project eventually earned the approval of California Coastal Commission in 2015. The Small Craft Harbor Commission, after reviewing complaints and noting the cost for a storage space would be higher than a slip (hence conflicting with the intent of the project), struggled to get behind the project; only two commissioners of the five present voted to approve the lease. Industry professionals viewed Boating Central’s size as being problematic and questioned its functionality; still others worried it would block safe access to the nearest boat launch ramp.

Contrasting the failed Boat Central project, other locations around the world have moved forward with similar dry storage facilities, for instance, the fully computerized dry stack boat storage facility in Fort Lauderdale at The Port Marina. Another “cutting-edge” facility is being planned for Marina Parc in Miami, which states the building “will be a fully automated, LEED Gold certified structure housing 582 boats, totaling more than 20,000 linear feet of boat storage.” Few marinas in the United States seem to be adopting the computer-operated storage facilities, but could this be the norm at marinas 50 or 100 years from now?

In a world that is seeing more and more superyachts, a company called Technomarine Group, based in North Palm Beach, Florida, specialized in design, engineering and manufacturing of custom marine systems such as dry storage facilities. Technomarine has an extensive portfolio of projects in Florida, Canada, Oman, Saudi Arabia and other countries around the world, and it not the only company catering to this type of marina engineering.

In a press statement released in July of 2016, Technomarine stated, “Technomarine Automated Dry Storage handling cradle is specifically designed to protect the boat hull from scuffing, premature wear or other risks of accident. The advantage over conventional dry storage methods is that the hull will never come in contact with forks or handling equipment—or for that matter, an overzealous fork operator. Only one machine is used for handling and rinsing with high-pressure fresh water, eliminating the need to move the boat several times.”

The statement also mentioned that vessels could be retrieved in less than five minutes and requests for launch or removal could be easily accessed prior to arrival by phone, email or a phone application.

So what has happened to Boat Central since 2016? Is anything on tap down the line?

Nicole Mooradian, Public Information Officer for L.A. County’s Department of Beaches and Harbors, says not much.

“At this point, there is no new project,” Mooradian told The Log.

For the time being, it appears an automated dry storage facility will stay off the radar for Marina del Rey. Will California ever see this kind of technology come to its coast? And could it be safely and effectively designed to fit the needs of boaters and marina operations? Only the future will tell.

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