By Brad Stager
With year-round boating access to the Gulf of Mexico and beyond as a popular feature of living in the fast-growing Riverview and SouthShore areas, it is not surprising that as the local waterways become more crowded, access to public boat ramps and rental slips is increasingly competitive.
To Mike Richards, the situation is a chance to fulfill his dream of owning a marina that caters to its clientele with a high level of service. He is in the process of building Riverview Marina, an indoor, dry boat storage facility that he envisions as being more than just a safe harbor.
“It’s going to be very customer service-based, more of a yacht club kind of feeling, so we’re going to have memberships for everybody who rents a slip from us,” said Richards, who along with business partner Nick Gonzalez has been developing the project. It will feature a 17,640-square-foot high and dry marina building that can protect boats from winds blowing up to 150 miles per hour.
There will also be a small shop to sell essentials like sunscreen and bait, as well as waterside food and beverage service with outdoor seating.
According to Richards, a great day of boating on the water will begin as soon as you park your car at Riverview Marina.
“We pick you up in a golf cart from your car and take you and all your stuff right down to your boat that’s all ready to go,” he said. “At most marinas you just roll in there and you’re just a slip number, they don’t really give customer service.”
Richards added that Riverview Marina staff will also take care of post-cruise cleanup and ensure proper storage of clients’ watercraft.
Richards said boating and marina operations are among his life’s passions and Riverview Marina is the culmination of that interest. It has so far been a two-year endeavor that is about to break ground, with its opening expected in the fall. He said about 50 of the 144 indoor slips have already been reserved as of the middle of May.
“The demand is out there. My goal is to have it full before we even open, and I think we can do it,” he said.
Riverview Marina will be located at 10531 Moody Rd., just south of Riverview Dr. and west of US 301, on the north bank of the Alafia River. To find out more, visit online at rivmarina.com or call 1-833-DRY-DOCK (1-833-379-3625).