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Fort Lauderdale marina receives $60 million loan

Lauderdale Marine Center, a key part of the South Florida marine industry, is getting a $60 million loan that will reduce costs and free up money for ongoing improvements to its 50-acre Fort Lauderdale boatyard and marina, one of the nation's largest.

BankUnited announced Monday that it had closed on the loan to East Yard Partners and West Yard Partners to refinance the Lauderdale Marine Center, 2001 SW 20th St., according to a report by the Sun-Sentinel.

The Lauderdale Marine Center "is a well-run company with a long history of success," BankUnited senior executive vice president Nic Bustle told the paper.

It's one of the few marinas and boatyards that can accommodate megayachts as large as 170 feet, he said. “Broward is a huge player in the marine industry," Bustle said.

It makes good business sense for BankUnited, the largest locally based bank in South Florida, to be lending to a key marine company that is part of a multibillion-dollar industry in South Florida, he added. It's "a key economic engine that helps drive the regional economy,'' he said in a BankUnited statement.

Lauderdale Marine Center officials wouldn't disclose details Monday of the refinancing deal. But the new lower interest rate involves "very significant savings," owner Dr. Selvin Passen, a retired pathologist who also owns the Baltimore Marine Center in Maryland, told the paper.

That will free up money to further upgrade the marine center, Passen said.

Even when the Great Recession hit South Florida in 2008, his center still invested $40 million in improvements. A few years earlier, the center bought the neighboring old Broward marina to expand.

The Lauderdale Marine Center has focused on filling a niche, such as being among the few marinas to allow boat owners to pick their own independent contractors to repair and maintain their vessels, Passen said.

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