New marinas in New York City are a rarity. Before May, the most recent opening of a new marina happened about 50 years ago.
ONE°15 Brooklyn Marina, a 100-slip marina in the heart of Brooklyn Bridge Park, had a “soft opening’ this year, according to the company that operates it, after five years of permitting, plan changes, wave-attenuation improvements and a swap-out of the companies running it.
“Edgewater Resources, a Michigan group, won the request for proposal from the city about the marina in 2014,” Estelle Lau, deputy CEO of ONE°15 Brooklyn Marina, told Trade Only Today. “They specialize in building marinas based on the commitment they make regarding community services. We joined them in 2015 because we felt the market was iconic and underserved. Our CEO Arthur Tay, felt that being across the Manhattan skyline would make for an ideal spot.”
Tay, in fact, is a bit of a marina visionary. Brooklyn is the first US property, but his Singapore-based ONE°15 had built up a succession of marina properties in Southeast Asia, including Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia. Rather than focusing on specific countries or regions, Tay looks at specific locations.
“I remember we were out here in January in the middle of winter,” says Lau. “I was freezing and the waterfront was empty. I wondered why anyone would want to put a marina there. But Arthur saw the skyline and immediately grasped the potential.”
The partnership between Edgewater and ONE°15 dissolved in 2017 as the marina was being completed. “We felt like the performance of the wave attenuation system, which we purchased commercially, was not something we wanted to put our name on,” says Lau. “So we bought out the partnership and delayed the opening until we had the system we wanted.”
With all the commercial and ferry traffic, not to mention constantly changing winds, New York Harbor has one of the most confused wave patterns of any Metro harbor. ONE°15 hired a group of engineers and project managers to develop a proprietary wave-attenuation system that minimizes wave surge inside the marina’s outer docks.
The installation of the new system delayed the marina’s opening until this May, but Lau says it was worth the wait. “The ferries were getting faster and more frequent, so it wasn’t a comfortable wake climate,” she says. “Now we have everything to where we initially thought it should be.”
The new Brooklyn marina also took a page from Tay’s Asian properties, by installing a yacht club (called the Harbor Club), café and bakery, upscale restaurant called Estuary with its Michelin-starred chef Danny Brown, as well as restrooms and shower facilities for its boat owners, with million-dollar views of the Manhattan skyline. The amenities are designed for both boat owners or Brooklynites walking through the park, or tourists coming off one of the harbor’s ferries that stop at its public dock. James Beard Award-winning Chef Francois Payard is Culinary Director for both Estuary and the bakery.
But the complex also has an active Community element that includes sailing clubs, chartering, and even a boatbuilding school. “Our business model is an integrated marina and yacht club with broad public access,” says Lau. “Arthur is interested in opening up the waterfront to people for different types of access, so everyone can engage in the boating lifestyle, without regard to the expense.”
The model seems to work. Tay’s Sentosa Cove Marina in Singapore, for instance, has only 250 boats, but 4,000 members. Many are part of the marina’s boat club and sailing school.
One quarter of the dock space in Brooklyn is set aside for community activities, rather than rented as private slips. “We sponsor several non-profits and allow community groups to use our meeting rooms,” says Lau. “We also have the only ADA-compliant ramps on our docks of any New York metro marina. We see the community as integral to our business model.”
The last stage of the marina, shorepower and pump-outs, are being completed at the marina. Lau expects everything to be completed before winter. The company is looking for other locations around the U.S. and Europe, preferably in “iconic” areas like New York, according to Lau. “We just had a family come in by sailboat from our marina in Singapore,” she says. “They’re a Brazilian family traveling around the world. We hope to have more marinas soon to form an international network.”
This story originally appeared in Soundings Trade Only Today, a sister publication in the AIM Marine Group.