Lighthouse Point Marina Embraces Renovation as New Beginning

When a marina undergoes a complete renovation, it may take time to regain the attention of boaters, and gain accolades as a favored location. This was not the case for Lighthouse Point Marina in Baltimore, Maryland, which closed in 2022 for a complete overhaul and then came roaring back landing as the Marina Dock Age small Marina of the Year for 2023.

Lighthouse Point was purchased by Monument Marine Group in 2022 which brought in Oasis Marinas to oversee the operations, including the renovation. Joel Schlossberg was tapped as general manager to help guide the major construction project and set up operations for a quick return to business.

Construction Gets Underway
Originally, the plan was to do the work in stages to allow boaters to stay in one area while another was shut down. Upon further inspection, the group learned the existing infrastructure wasn’t safe and the marina needed to close completely. “All the boats had to be rehomed but because Oasis has other properties in the area, we were able to move boats nearby. Some boats went to other locations and for some it was the push they needed to sell their boats. But a good number returned for the 2023 season even though we didn’t open until mid-summer,” Schlossberg said.

The renovation was badly needed, but a major undertaking. Dissen & Juhn Co. were contracted to undertake the project with the goal of constructing a functioning marina that was comparable in size to what was already onsite. “The marina was in terrible shape. The docks were barely serviceable, piles were severely corroded, the original floating dock manufacturer was no longer in business, so repairs were never going to be an option anyway,” commented Gil Dissen, president of Dissen & Juhn.

The project was complex and had the added complication of its location in the center of a city and adjacent to the busy Patapsco River. Vacant property across the harbor was tapped as a staging area, which meant all demolition materials and all new materials had to be transported via barges back and forth across Baltimore’s harbor.

A host of new amenities from central pumpout to keyless gate entry and expanded WiFi have attracted new boaters and been a plus for returning boaters.

The first step was demolition. The former docks were a hybrid of wood, concrete, plastic, foam, and steel, all of which was dismantled on land and separated into its recyclable parts. Dissen said the marina owner is very environmentally conscious so being able to recycle, with 88% of the foam, steel, and concrete being repurposed, was a win. The new Meeco Sullivan docks with wood framing and plastic composite decking, along with aluminum gangways were assembled on the water and moored in place with steel pipe piles. A breakwater was installed in the channel and all utilities were replaced featuring 3-phase power with GFCI and 50-amp pedestals, with 100-amp at side ties and T-heads. A new Edson central vacuum sewage pumpout was added, along with a keyless gate system with smartphone integration and WiFi coverage throughout the property.

“The owner wanted this project done in a year, but when we submitted the original bid, we extended it beyond a year. We scrutinized our plans and were able to bring the project forward 90 days to meet the deadline of completing everything by the end of 2023,” said Dissen. He further commented that the subcontractors they used greatly impacted how quickly they could finish. “We mostly work with the same subcontractors. We know what support they need, and they are mostly local which all helps the work go smoothly,” he said.

Open for Business
The new state-of-the-art facility attracted boaters, but keeping them required the skills of Schlossberg, backed by the experience of Oasis Marinas.
Schlossberg brought a background in health and fitness to his new job, along with a lifelong passion for boating. With just over a year at Lighthouse, he’s hooked on the marina industry. “I’m at a brand-new state of the art marina that’s committed to service excellence. We provide and create exceptional experiences for our customers and in just a short time I’ve seen an incredible response by our boaters,” he said.

The marina hires workers with excellent interpersonal skills, prioritizing customer service and satisfaction from day one.

A key part of customer service is communication. Signs welcome new boaters onsite and they receive a personal email from the manager with their slip assignment prior to arrival. Boaters are all given the manager’s personal cell phone number and are encouraged to call with questions and concerns. Lighthouse Point places a strong emphasis on hiring welcoming, friendly workers who excel in interpersonal skills– and to some extent, prioritizes these qualities over boater knowledge. However, Sclossberg said to ensure new hires aren’t lost at the dock, they undergo a training program to teach them the technical skills needed for safety, emergency response, and basic line handling.

Reaching people in the community that surrounds the marina is also a priority. The marina establishes partnerships with local organizations, like Canton Community Association, and participates in Trawler Fest and Baltimore Flotilla to reach wider audiences and increase community connections. Waterfront residents receive communication through town hall meetings, happy hour invites, endorsements and email campaigns. Seasonal efforts include digital, social media, and geofencing.

Oasis Marinas has also embraced National Marina Days, organized by the Association of Marina Industries, as a key event for public outreach. The intent is to have marinas open their doors to the community to show off the boating lifestyle and encourage more participation. “It’s important because it signals our larger commitment to contributing back to waterways where we do business and gives us a chance to educate the larger community about all we do to keep the waters clean,” Schlossberg said. While they do daily cleaning, as part of National Marina Day they do an official waterway clean up tracking progress through Clean Swell of how much trash is collected. “We have lots of young dockhands and the day is one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable aspects of their summer. It gives them a sense of contribution and accomplishment,” he said.

The major renovation of Lighthouse Point turned it from a dilapidated property to one that makes a statement as a top shelf marina.

The renovated property includes Drift Bar, a floating craft cocktail dock, but more is on the horizon for the final phase of the property overhaul including a new boater’s lounge, laundry, gym, and pool. Completion of all is expected in 2024.

Dissen summed up the result of this revitalization. “This was a good size project, a significant statement in the Port of Baltimore and very much a top shelf marina,” he said.