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Bayside "dockominiums' could leave some boaters high and dry

Bayside Marina, one of the few remaining docks where a boat owner can rent space, may soon go condo.

Plans are afoot to turn the sprawling marina at 5200 W Tyson Ave. into "dockominiums," or luxury condos for boats.

An associate of developer Steeven Knight says he recently entered into a preliminary contract to purchase the property from CJ Marina, which owns the land.

The property, which is near Rattlesnake Point just south of Gandy Boulevard and west of West Shore Boulevard, is valued at $5.12-million, according to Hillsborough County property appraiser records.

Officials at CJ Marina, which owns the site, and Bayside Marina did not return calls for comment. The marina owners have previously said the property may be developed for residential condos.

Knight, who runs several marinas around the state, also did not return calls for comment.

Citing a pending contract at the Tampa facility, Chad Edmonds, general manager at Knight's Sanibel Harbour Yacht Club, said he could not comment on the terms of the deal. But he was hopeful that it would go through.

If it does, "it's pretty likely it will model after ours," Edmonds said, referring to the Sanibel property. "It's five-star concierge service."

When dockominium owners arrive at the Sanibel club, valets will park their cars and drive them to their boats, Edmonds said. Sanibel employees will put boats in the water and can fully stock them with food and beverages. At the end of an outing, boat owners will leave the boat cleaning and storage to the club's staff.

Knight plans to open the Sanibel Harbour Yacht Club on April 1, Edmonds said. The private club will feature 386 dry slips and five wet slips. So far, boat owners have snapped up 90 percent of the slips, which range from $124,000 per slip for dry storage to $425,000 for wet slips, Edmonds said. The slips also have a monthly maintenance fee of $225.

At most rental sites, boat owners pay to store their boats. The owners are responsible for moving their boats from their berth to the water. At the end of their excursions, they must clean and re-store their boats, a process that can take several hours.

If the Bayside Marina sale goes through, the public will lose another boat dock rental space. State environmental officials said public rental wet slips have decreased by 8.2 percent since March 2004.

Increasingly, state officials said, marina owners are cashing out when developers offer to buy their property.

"They're basically winning the lottery," said Lt. Col. Jim Brown, deputy director of law enforcement for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

But the good fortune for marina owners could spell hard luck for some boat owners.

"There's less and less opportunity for public access to waters because of the cost of the land," Brown said. "When you take that access away and put it into private hands, then it could end up where only the rich have access to the waters."

Word of a pending sale at Bayside has circulated through the Tampa boating community for weeks. Knight recently met with business owners at the marina to discuss his plans.

Chuck Rogers, who owns Rattlesnake Point Outfitters at Bayside Marina, returned from vacation last weekend to learn that he may soon have to find a new home.

Rattle Fish Raw Bar and Grill owner Scott Estes has started to look for another site. He met with Knight two weeks ago and recently visited his Sanibel property. If the deal goes through, Estes said he would either continue operating Rattle Fish as a public restaurant on its current site, become a private club facility or relocate.

Estes hopes to stay put.

"I'd hate to see us change," he said. But with all the things that are going on around here, it's a nice addition."

Sherri Day can be reached at 813-226-3405 or