Created: Saturday, March 03 2012 15:43
Kate Gruish - Staff Writer
March 19, 2005
YACHT CENTER TAKING THE SEARCH OUT OF SUMMER STORAGE
Joe Charles always struggled to find a storage spot for his boat during the summer months. The lack of local options meant the boat wound up spending summers in the back yard of his Jupiter home — a less-than-ideal location.
'It sits out there and rots,' said the part-time resident. 'And then, every time there is a hurricane threat, we have to have the neighbors help out and keep an eye on it.'
Charles finally found a solution for his frustration, however, one he hopes will ease the minds of many other boat-loving seasonal residents.
He plans to open the River Forest Yachting Center near Stuart by late May, with space to accommodate 200 to 250 boats.
'This is not a marina,' said Charles, founder and CEO of Charles Industries Ltd., a Rolling Meadows, Ill.-based manufacturer of telecommunications equipment. 'It's a long-term storage summer boat facility. It really caters to those who go North or leave for the summer ... There's nothing like it around.'
The center, at 9150 S.W. Pennsylvania Ave., is nestled in a 9-acre, hurricane-protected freshwater lagoon area connected to the St. Lucie Canal by a 700-foot channel.
The nearly $5 million project includes a 45,000-square-foot, climate-controlled building for larger boats, as well as two smaller buildings for boat storage and maintenance work.
Previously a junkyard, the property was purchased in May 2003. Charles received the last of the necessary permits in February and expects to open in time for hurricane season.
Although the project took shape before last summer's storms, its taken on importance in light of the damage to area marinas. Statewide, marina owners have provided loss estimates totaling about $40 million. Along the Treasure Coast, all 27 members of the area's marine association reported damage.
In response, Charles has created and patented the 'Hurricane Club.' Group members are ensured wet or dry boat storage at River Forest in the case of a hurricane.
'When a hurricane is on the way, everyone is trying to find a place to take their boat,' said Charles. 'This guarantees you have a spot for your boat.'
Annual membership will range from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the size of the vessel. Charles said the club also can help decrease insurance premiums about 20 percent, by meeting insurance hurricane storage provisions. Charles said he's already receiving requests about hurricane club membership.
Once open, other River Forest services will include boat detailing, bottom painting, fueling and propeller work. Maintenance, repair and other services will be available by arrangement.
'It's hassle-free storage,' said Charles. 'We want people who store here to feel comfortable. We're very excited about it.'
Created: Saturday, March 03 2012 15:39
Lori Becker - Palm Beach Post Columnist
January 03, 2005
NEW MARINA TO PROVIDE PROTECTION
Winter resident Joe Charles wanted a better place to store his boat for the summer. Tired of leaving his 56-foot Neptunus Express behind his house in Jupiter, he decided to build his own marina.
Charles plans to open the River Forest Yachting Center this spring in Stuart. The $4 million project will sit on 8 1/2 acres off the St. Lucie Canal on Pennsylvania Avenue, just north of State Road 76A.
"My wife and I have been looking for a place for years. We finally found one, but we had to do it ourselves," said Charles, 65.
The marina will feature a 45,000-square-foot air-conditioned building for summer storage of large boats. It will also include two smaller buildings for boat storage and maintenance.
The facility, connected to the canal by a 700-foot-long channel, is aimed at larger boats from 30 to 50 feet, Charles said.
For $4 a square foot, seasonal boaters won't have to worry about sun or water damage to their vessels while they're away.
"The sun tears them up, and the barnacles grow on the bottom," Charles said. "Having them in a climate-controlled building for six months of the year greatly enhances the life."
But after September's twin hurricanes wiped out marinas along the Treasure Coast, River Forest is also selling itself as a storm shelter.
The boatyard, a mile west of the St. Lucie Locks, will have dry storage for up to 300 boats.
Boaters can pay to reserve a dry slip to move their vessels to in case of a hurricane.
"It's a safe harbor so we can get people out of those (coastal) marinas and get them up the river," Charles said.
Gary Guertin, vice president of the Marine Industries Association of the Treasure Coast, said the inland storage would a plus for local boaters.
"The more boats that are taken out of harm's way, the better," he said.
Charles, who splits time between Jupiter and Chicago, is chief executive officer of Rolling Meadows, Ill.-based Charles Industries, which makes electronic equipment for the telecommunications and marine industries. He bought the former Foster Dredge property in May 2003.
Charles expects to get final approval this week from Martin County so he can begin construction.