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Intrepid Powerboats sets course for move

Intrepid Powerboats, a company that designs and builds ocean-going pleasure boats, is moving to an 8{-acre property on Belcher Road that once housed a yacht-building plant.

Company president John F. Michel Jr. said he bought the property at 11700 Belcher Road in February and since then has been running his boat manufacturing plant in St. Petersburg and overseeing the refurbishing of the company's future home.

The company builds open and enclosed fishing and pleasure power boats that range from 26 to 40 feet and cost from $50,000 to $450,000, Michel said.

"We build semi-custom boats," he said. "We only sell to people, not dealers."

Intrepid has 90 employees, Michel said. "We've grown for the last 15 years and expect to continue." Gross sales in 1997 were $12-million, he said.

The site of Intrepid's new plant on Belcher Road is the former home of Endeavor Yachts. The yachtmaker closed years ago, and while the property has had other tenants few improvements have been made.

Michel is rebuilding, however. "We're totally redoing the property," he said. "We tore down the front building and built it back up on a 7{-foot-high concrete wall to raise the ceiling height."

When finished, the plant will have 70,000 square feet, including 3,000 square feet for administrative and engineering offices. When he opens for business at the new plant, Michel said, he will have invested more than $1.5-million in the project. He is planning to move in in early June.

Michel, 48, started the business in 1983 in Miami, and in 1990 moved it to a plant on 45th Street N in St. Petersburg.

"We're busy," Michel said. "We generally have about 20 boats in production. We kind of feel like (building the new facility) is a distraction."