In January 2021, Austin and Jenny Cameron, owners of VIP Marinas, bought the Meridian Marina in Palm City, Florida. The marina, located on the banks of the St. Lucie River, was in foreclosure as the previous owner had declared bankruptcy. The 62,000- square-foot dry storage facility had been in a state of disrepair since Hurricane Irma swept through the area in 2017.
“The siding had been blown off and the roof was leaking badly. Rust from the roof was falling in on the boats,” said Jenny Cameron. The building, which has space for 260 boats up to 42 feet long, was in such bad condition that the Camerons couldn’t get it insured.
The new owners began renovations almost immediately. To save money on the project, they worked with Extreme Metal Fabricators, a local metal supply/fabrication house. “This is a small community, so we thought it was important to support local business here,” said Austin Cameron. They also hired David Coyle of Mack David Building as a consultant to oversee the project and make sure that the facility was properly constructed. As of late May 2021, installation of the roof and metal wall panels was almost complete, ready for the planned decorative panels.
Even before the renovations, occupancy of the facility was almost at 70% because of the huge popularity of boating in the area. With the renovations, Jenny Cameron said they expect to be at 100% occupancy very soon. So the owners are planning an addition to the facility that will include another 280 boat racks. Half of them will be in an addition to the current dry storage facility, and will be able to accommodate boats up to 50 feet. The other half will be located outside on the marina’s 11.75-acre site. The marina is currently going through the permitting and approval process for the additional slips, and the Camerons say that City representatives have verbally supported their plans.
When VIP Marinas took over the marina, the concrete paths and launch areas were full of potholes. “There’s a giant hole on our launch area where they had pulled out the gas tank from the late ‘80s or early ‘90s,” said Austin Cameron.
Before they could replace all of the broken, cracked and patched concrete, that area had to undergo several environmental tests and gain approval from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
“We finally got our final, fourth round of tests, and we have clean soil, so we’re going to be repouring 12-inch-thick concrete for the entire path,” said Austin. The marina has also replaced two old forklifts with newer, safer ones.