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The weather took a nasty turn yesterday, but we’re determined to bring back the warmth with some news about a growing outdoor asset class. (Hint: Make sure you know your port versus starboard.)


Having mastered golf course brokerage and eager to conquer a new niche, Links Capital Advisors founder and principal Chris Charnas tells us his sights are on the marina industry. Newly launched Marina Capital Advisors (MCA), a JV with Insignia/ESG alum Cy Oelerich, will focus on doing deals around the 12,000-marina national market. It’s been a largely mom-and-pop business until now, Chris says, with few brokers and even fewer companies specializing in the asset class. “There’s so much water in Lake County and up in Wisconsin,” he says. “We have a great opportunity to step into the space and take a big chunk.” (The question is will they be targeting marinas like the one from Jaws or the one from One Crazy Summer.)


Those mom and pops who have owned for decades are now looking for an exit strategy (the kids moved away, the parents want to retire), Chris says, and prospective buyers might include: “the guy with the biggest house on the lake"; other marina owners looking to expand; entrepreneurial investors attracted to high returns and barriers to entry (similar to golf course buyers); and those who just see redevelopment potential—condos, hotels, restaurants. (People hunting a single, unattainable, largely allegorical White Whale are also interested.) Coastal marinas operate differently than internal ones in the Midwest, he says. A Florida marina needs more wet storage with slips it can rent year-round, while a local marina would be focused on winter dry storage, service, and boat sales.


If you’ve got cash flow, enough slips/storage, and a good operator, you can tell a good story to lenders and support a mortgage, Chris says. Marina deals can run as small as $1M, but coastal sites could trade for as high as $50M to $60M. MCA will start building its pipeline through local contacts, relationships in Florida, and Chris’s many sailor fraternity brothers (those who chug together sell marinas together). The company will eventually branch into leasing and management, and may put together capital for its own acquisitions when the right deal comes around. Chris’s favorite marina is Lauderdale Lakes in Wisconsin (above), and he recently did additional “research” in Cabo over spring break.