Boat storage in South Florida lacking as developers scoop up land

Avid boater buys marina to help stave off shortage; real estate agent, yacht broker team up to provide solutions
Posted at 2:41 PM, Nov 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-16 14:41:17-05

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — Members of South Florida's boating community claim there is a serious lack of boat storage as developers are eager to buy open land.

"This is my zen time," Marshall Sklar, who lives in Boca Raton, told WPTV.

Sklar practically lives on his boat.

Marshall Sklar navigates his boat amid boat storage shortage
Marshall Sklar loves boating so much that he's made a second career out of it.

"I could pull up a big grouper," he said. "I could pull up a tile fish. I've hooked tuna."

He loves being on the water so much that he's made a second career out of it.

"It allows me to turn my phone off, delegate all my tasks for the week to somebody else," Sklar said. "This was my way of saying, 'Hey, I have a solution to the dwindling supply of boat storage out there.' So, I started buying them up."

Sklar recently bought land in Broward County at the Mizner Marina.

"This is the newest marina in South Florida, right in east Deerfield Beach," he said.

He told WPTV it's much-needed boat storage space during a time when there's not much of it.

Marshall Sklar walks through his Mizner Marina
Marshall Sklar walks through the Mizner Marina in Deerfield Beach. He recently purchased the land to help provide some much-needed storage space for boats.

Sklar said boat sales drastically increased during the pandemic and that's a big part of the problem.

"We had over a 1,000-person wait list at our other facilities and when an opportunity came up to buy another place to store boats, I jumped on it," he said.

Sklar said he gets calls from developers every week who want to turn his marina into a high-rise condominium building or multi-family homes.

"I decline," he said. "I don't even typically discuss anything further."

The growing lack of storage is also creating a shift in South Florida's real estate market.

"We're seeing that these South Florida waterfront properties are increasingly rare and even more valuable," Megan Romine, founder and CEO of Luxure Real Estate, said.

Romine said everyone wants a waterfront property with space to keep their boats, making cash offers once again rule the market, which is why Romine and yacht broker Bobby Giancola often work together.

"I can help my clients find dockage because there's a house here that, you know, they don't use boats, so they can rent that dock out," Giancola said.

Jessica Bruno speaks with Megan Romine and Bobby Giancola about boat storage shortage
Megan Romine, founder and CEO of Luxure Real Estate, and yacht broker Bobby Giancola tell WPTV's Jessica Bruno that they sometimes work together to find waterfront properties with vacant docks that can be rented to boaters in need of a space.

Sklar told WPTV that storage isn't the only issue plaguing the boating community right now. Insurance prices are skyrocketing, and inflation is a big part of it.

"It's similar to what we're experiencing in the housing market," Russ Deboo, owner of Deboo Insurance Agency in Deerfield Beach, said. "Inflation is affecting a lot of things. It's the supply. It's the cost of labor. It's very much relative to what's going on in the housing market."

Deboo told WPTV his best advice for hopeful boat owners right now is to do thorough research.

"A lot of people will go ahead fixate on the boat, figure out what they want and then they'll come get the insurance, and then it'll be a lot more than they want to pay," Deboo said.

From the insurance hikes back to the lack of storage, South Florida boat owners like Sklar are just hoping things will turn around sooner rather than later.

"If you take away the storage aspect of what we love doing, we have no other options left," Sklar said.