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Downtown Beaufort’s waterfront could see a $1-million facelift. Here are the details

Workers connect dock at Downtown Marina

Workers with O'Quinn Marine work at Beaufort Downtown Marina on April 13, 2017, to connect a new dock that replaces one that was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in October.
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Workers with O'Quinn Marine work at Beaufort Downtown Marina on April 13, 2017, to connect a new dock that replaces one that was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in October.

More than $1 million in improvements and expansion could be coming to the downtown Beaufort waterfront.

The city will transition to a new operator for its Beaufort Downtown Marina starting this summer. Safe Harbor Marinas will take over management of the dock space, marina store and restroom and laundry facilities adjacent to Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.

Under the agreement approved by City Council on Tuesday and still needing to be signed, Safe Harbor will be required to invest at least $1 million in the docks during the first 10 years of the lease. Another $100,000 would be required during each 10-year term the lease is renewed, up to 40 years.

The investment could meaning expanding the existing 1,000 feet of dock space and improving the existing docks and mooring field where boaters pay rent fees and buy fuel and other supplies.

Safe Harbor would pay the city 15 percent of its gross revenue from dock fees, 7.5 percent of money made from retail sales and 20 cents of each gallon fuel sold. Under the terms of the lease, city officials have the right to audit the operator’s books.

The deal also includes a clause where unsatisfactory customer service could affect the lease renewal.

“We’ve tried to get everything we can into what will be a long-term lease,” city manager Bill Prokop said.

Safe Harbor will replace longtime marina manager Rick Griffin, who plans to retire. The new contract is effective in July.

Beaufort will continue to manage a day dock free to short-term visitors until conditions are met for a grant used to build the dock last year. Safe Harbor will then take over.

The lease will begin with a three-year planning phase and the next seven years would be dedicated to operations and expansion, with Safe Harbor paying for all development related to facilities on the water. The city will be responsible for maintaining the marina store, restroom building, parking and the fuel tanks.

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