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2017 May June Marina World

The magazine for the marina industry

COVER STORY Building big

COVER STORY Building big docks in a small town Provincetown Marina at the tip of Cape Cod in Massachusetts is being transformed into a megayacht destination with one of the largest breakwater systems on the East Coast. It’s the third marina in the area to receive a major overhaul, all at the hands of one industrious couple. Sarah Devlin reports Chuck and Ann Lagasse are not new to property development nor are they naïve when it comes to marina management. As former major landowners in Newburyport, Massachusetts, they are hands-on and intuitive about how they invest and improve properties. “We started by developing marinas and land for upland auxiliary uses,” Chuck says about Newburyport, where they developed and managed marinas and properties along the mouth of the Merrimack River 150 miles (241km) or approximately 60nm north of Provincetown. “When we started, we partnered with marinas that had something like 36 slips. In over 30 years, we built over 500 slips, in our own facilities and with partners.” “We’re about current uses and mixed use. [In Newburyport,] we had a great downtown with historic buildings,” Gigantic SF Type 600 breakwater units being delivered to the Provincetown site. Ann states. As part of that waterfront development, she and Chuck added restaurants and retail locations, totalling 45 properties overall. “When we got involved, there were 30 different owners and we worked to consolidate them. It was a big portfolio. It was our life.” She stops for a moment. “I think of us as redevelopers, not developers.” The road to Provincetown The timeline for the Lagasses and Provincetown Marina started in 2007. Chuck and Ann approached the Cabral family, the owners of Provincetown Marina (then called Fisherman’s Wharf), to discuss purchasing the Mason Sears, SF Marina Systems USA Provincetown Marina after refurbishment in 2016. The new elbow-shaped breakwater will run out from the left of the building towards the sailboat moorings. old commercial pier and marina with another financial partner. “We thought it needed some capital,” Chuck says diplomatically. The deal fell through for various reasons, not the least of which the recession that took hold of the market in 2008. That didn’t diminish their interest in the property, however. “Over the years I’ve followed it and we stayed in touch with the owners,” he states. “I always thought [Provincetown] was one of the premier boating destinations on the East Coast.” He’s referring to the protected harbour’s location, its deep basin, and the draw of area beaches and the historic town centre. Already a destination for ferry traffic out of Boston, Provincetown is 50 miles (80km) to the east, protected from the Atlantic by a spit of land. If Cape Cod were a human arm, curled into itself, Provincetown Harbor would be the inside of the arm’s fist. It’s a straight shot from Cape Cod Canal, which Anders Lindberg, SF Marina 12 www.marinaworld.com - May/June 2017

COVER STORY bisects Cape Cod’s ‘arm’ and the ‘body’ of Massachusetts. Those who travel through the Canal are cruising from Buzzard’s Bay and Vineyard Sound as well as such boating destinations as Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. “The town is wonderful,” Chuck states. “Great for biking, boating, outdoor activities and the most beautiful beaches. And, we don’t have a pleasure boat destination out here!” But he and Ann had other properties to attend to first, before landing in Provincetown. Late in the first decade of the 2000s, after the sale with the Cabral family fell through, a bank approached Chuck to gauge his interest in purchasing a bankrupt property in Boston Harbor. “We’re always looking for properties to rehabilitate,” he confirms. “We knew Boston was a great destination,” Ann adds. “There were no big boat facilities in the North End where the marina is located.” The facility now known as Boston Yacht Haven was in a state of disrepair and neglect, according to the Lagasses, and the docks needed to be completely replaced, but they were intrigued by a small inn on the property. (“First time we operated an inn!” Ann exclaims.) The Lagasses dismantled the marina and started from scratch. “We had a vision of building a breakwater that could handle megayachts,” Chuck says. They immediately started considering what kind of breakwater they might need for the area. In record time and inclement weather conditions, Chuck and Ann Lagasse spearheaded restoration of Charlestown Marina in 2014/15. “Boston Harbor was a considerable challenge because of the surge in there from commercial activity,” Chuck adds. In the end, they built a 1,000ft (305m) hybrid steel/concrete breakwater that circles the property. It acts not only as a breakwater, but also as a face pier to provide dockage for megayachts up to 400ft (122m). Smaller boats are located behind the breakwater, protected from the busy harbour’s surge. To get the facility into the marketplace quickly, they entered into an agreement with IGY Marinas in order to list the property as a destination location. In their first season, they saw four megayachts come in from the Mediterranean. They no longer have that relationship with IGY, but the megayachts continue to return. Next, they set their sights on Pier 8, aka Charlestown Marina, also located in Boston Harbor. The marina had been closed by the Attorney General’s office and the Department of Environmental Protection, because as Chuck says, “it was falling into the harbour.” They purchased the land in October 2014 and were given 60 days to remove the old docks and any debris. As it turns out, that year Boston saw its snowiest season on record, with major snowfall starting in November and carrying through to March, totalling just over 9ft (3m). Chuck purchased a workboat from the infamous Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill in 2010, and hired local The original pier at Provincetown underwent refurbishment and accommodates vessels up to 125ft (38m). contractors Boston Bridge & Steel (out of East Boston) to build a 900ft (274m) concrete and steel breakwater. “People kept telling us ‘there’s no way you’ll be open in May’,” Chuck laughed. “I don’t think even our staff believed us.” But, despite the unprecedented snowfall, they had 250 slips ready for reservations for vessels ranging from small dinghies up to 400ft (122m) yachts by May 2015. “It came down to great community work,” Chuck says. Finally, Provincetown In February 2015, a little less than a year after opening Charlestown Marina, the Lagasses purchased Provincetown Marina. The existing 100ft (30m) pier had 50 slips up to 60ft (18m) surrounded by 100 moorings. They opened for business in June 2015 after focusing on such immediate needs as www.marinaworld.com - May/June 2017 13