As public access to the water shrinks, waterfront property is becoming more valuable and rare, bringing the focus of boating accessibility to the forefront. Mention the word “dockominium”, the concept of selling slips rather than leasing, and you will get strong opinions on this topic. This trend has caught the attention of not only trade press, but also mainstream media wishing to garner more information on this topic, which affects their readers who value their boating lifestyle.
Access to the water is top priority to the association as well as to the industry, and maintaining facilities on the waterfront that serve this purpose is important. The issue of dockominiums, however, is not black and white.
Some critics view the new trend as financially discriminatory which may eventually price the “average joe” out of the market. As slips that were once leased are sold, the general consensus is that the slip is then off the market for future rental use and only the wealthy can afford to pay the price tag.
This, however, does not always hold true. In some instances slips are being purchased by individuals that don't yet own a boat but realize the value of access who then place those slips on the rental market right away. These slips are often managed by the marina in a "shared revenue" program and the slips remain on the market as rentals even though the ownership structure has changed. In some cases slips have been developed where they may not have otherwise been developed because the dockominium structure was used to finance the project.
Another argument stems from the fact that we live in a free-market society and marina operators/owners should have the right to make decisions on their property that most positively affect their bottom line. This brings up the counter question, “if we don’t keep our waterways accessible to the public, who will”?
No matter what your view is on dockominiums, it is a trend that is only going to become bigger as the issue of water access becomes more prevalent. Continuous healthy discussion on this topic will benefit the entire industry as we work together to make it stronger.
Association of Marina Industries