Windward Marine Group Upgrades Its Florida Marinas

A year after purchasing Beach Marine in Jacksonville, Florida, the Windward Marine Group has embarked on a major facelift to improve the marina’s docks, increase storage efficiency, upgrade lighting and renovate customer service areas, seawalls and the concrete paving.

Beach Marine currently has about 300 dry storage slips and another 177 wet slips. The renovations are needed to restore slips lost in a hurricane a few years ago and to provide the amenities that the community is looking for, said Paulina Johansson, project manager for Windward Marine Group.

The marina has purchased a small dredge and plans to do maintenance dredging of the basin. The owners are doing a major seawall project as well, re-anchoring and restructuring the marina’s bulkhead to prevent seepage.

Staff members are retrofitting the existing docks, driving new piles, saving and cleaning the floats, and adding new wooden decking. The power pedestals are being upgraded by adding 100-amp service to the existing 30- and 50-amp service. Pumpout and fuel services are available as well.

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“We are also putting in about 40 lift slips,” said Johansson. “The center console business is really taking off now, and a lot of those guys want to go out and fish very early in the morning and don’t want to wait for the dry stack to open in the morning. So with the lift slips, we are giving them the option to take out their boats whenever they want to.” The marina may add more lift slips if the demand is there.

In the dry stack area, the marina has put in new bunking material. “What we’re looking to do in the future is concierge service. Customers will reserve a time to have their boats brought out, and we will fill them with fuel and stock them with ice, soda and beer if they want it,” Johansson said. She anticipates those services could be available by the end of 2021 and hopefully sooner.

Since the ship store wasn’t doing much business, the new owners have closed it and used the extra space to make the office more inviting and to add a conference room. Just outside the office, the marina has created a new placemaking area that offers fire pits and room for food trucks visits. It will eventually include a small dog park as well.

“We want to bring people to the waterfront; that’s our main goal with all of our renovations, but especially at Beach Marine…How can we invite people to our space and make it a destination?” said Johansson.

Up next is a massive concrete project that will include long-term, sustainable fixes to the cracked concrete that the lift runs on. “We are scheduling it so we don’t have to close operations; we have two doors in our barn, so we can keep one side going while the other is being repaired,” she said.

Windward Marina Group is also adding lift slips to its St. Augustine Shipyard facility and plans to launch concierge service for the 300-slip dry storage customers there. Across the water at St. Augustine Marine Center, the owners will be building both single family and multi-family residences to a 300-year floodplain plan, with the first finished floors at 35 feet above sea level. An affordable housing component will enable shipyard employees to live in the community on a starter-home salary.

The idea is to build a community that is made with sustainable materials and that follows the principles of social sustainability, said Johansson. “Affordable housing will make it possible for everyone to have access to the waterfront, not just large boat owners,” she added.