The Triton: Carlyle to buy Lauderdale Marine Center; tenants hope for business as usual June 25, 2015

Lauderdale Marine Center (LMC) is under contract to be sold to Carlyle U.S. Real Estate Group in a deal expected to close on July 1, according to a source close to the transaction who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Immediate and long-term plans are to operate in the same manner as it operates today,” the source said. “Almost all onsite personnel will be retained and no changes are expected other than those in the ordinary course of business.”

Neither LMC nor Carlyle executives would comment on the sale, but with no official word, there has been speculation from tenants and business partners surrounding the sale and the future of the property, located on Ft. Lauderdale’s New River just east of the I-95 overpass.

“I think there will always be speculation when a private equity group purchases a marine entity,” said Philip Purcell, executive director of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida (MIASF). “That said, LMC is a thriving yard that is a valuable component of our industry and the jobs that reside in it.”

One LMC employee said the yard wanted to communicate with employees and tenants before talking to the press. They had not done so by June 19.

In the past few years, LMC has acquired adjacent properties, including River Bend Marine Center and six other lots, to make the property about 60 acres. This makes it Florida’s largest yacht facility and the largest yacht repair facility in the United States in terms of how many large vessels it can haul and service, according to Jim Parks, operations manager at LMC. It is owned by Dr. Selvin Passen and Morio Mito.

“It’s difficult to give exact numbers because we can mix and match according to different boat sizes,” Parks said.

The yard has 19 covered sheds for boats up to 165 feet, space for about 70 others under 100 feet and about 150 slips, he said. LMC handles hauling, pressure washing, docking, forklift, crane, some rental equipment and vessel storage, but does not do service and repair work. Instead, customers have the option to work with about 60 on-site contractors or provide their own licensed contractors.

“It’s up to the owner, crew or contractors; we don’t get involved or mark-up services,” Parks said. “It’s a do-it-yourself yard on a very large scale. The equation works because it is so large.”

Carlyle’s parent company, The Carlyle Group, has holdings in residential and commercial real estate, including condos and hotels. That has some tenants concerned.

“As one of the biggest on-site contractors, we see this yard is successful under the current operating mode,” said Chris Brown, owner of High Seas Yacht Service and Hydraulic, tenants since about 1998. “I have talked with a lot of different people about the new owners and every indication I have leads me to believe that they will continue to operate in the same way.”

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Marine Industries Association of South Florida. 2312 S. Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316. Phone: 954.524.2733