On March 25, about 35 boats were afloat at their slips in the Baltimore Yacht Basin (BYB), the marina next to Nick’s Fish House in Port Covington. Eight days later, many of them will need to be gone. In a letter dated March 18, an unknown number of boat owners who’ve been keeping their vessels at the 186-slip marina were asked to “please remove your boat and any associated personal property from the Marina no later than April 2, 2015,” the letter from BYB reads, or be charged the “daily transient rate” of $100 per day.
“I got it yesterday,” says one slip renter over the phone on March 25. (BYB renters who spoke with City Paper asked that their names not be used because they are still hoping to salvage their leases.) He’s been keeping his boat there for years, and lived aboard it for seven of them. “I wanted to stay there, but they didn’t seem to think my boat was nice-looking enough or something,” he says. “Other than a couple of little scuffs on it, I don’t think it’s unsightly. It’s a nice-looking boat. But as far as I know, not everyone is getting kicked out. If you have a really fancy, beautiful, nice-looking boat, then you can stay. Otherwise they want you to leave, and I’ll say that’s most of them. I think some did leave already, ’cause they didn’t like what the new offer was or they just didn’t want to be at a place where, sure, you can pay up for the year, but we can still kick you out at any time.”
The sudden change in the lease arrangements at BYB comes on the heels of the January sale of the property at 2600 Insulator Drive, which includes both the restaurant and the marina, as part of Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank’s ongoing drive to assemble waterfront parcels along the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River. A Plank-controlled company paid the prior owner $5,899,733 for the restaurant-and-marina property, according to land records and press reports.
In early March, Plank announced his still-hazy plans for the properties he’s acquired on Port Covington. First and foremost, according to media coverage of the announcement, the parcels will be used to serve Under Armour’s needs as it outgrows its Tide Point offices.
“Let me be clear,” Plank told the Baltimore Business Journal, “the purpose here is making sure I have a $10 billion company in the next decade.”
As for where the slip renter’s boat will end up, he says, “I can’t really afford the place next door,” Tidewater Yacht Service, on nearby Cromwell Street, “or any of the others in the immediate area, because they are thousands of dollars more.” He “might be moving to a place down near Gibson Island,” he says, and “it’s actually $600 a year cheaper, but it’s not in my normal travel circle.”
John Maroon of Maroon PR, acting as a spokesman for BYB, issued a statement in response to City Paper’s inquiries about the changes. “Some vessels were out of compliance with many marina regulations,” he says, and BYB intends to ensure that “slip licenses will only be issued to vessels that are insured, in compliance with all codes and standards, safe to operate and without risk to other boaters.” Maroon adds that BYB “will work with all our marina users to bring their vessels into compliance, or work with them on plans to safely move their boats from the marina while making sure to avoid imposing any hardship.”
Another slip renter, who also asked not to be named (and, in disclosure, is a friend of this writer), says, “it’s not easy to leave on such short notice, since nobody has unwinterized their boats yet. Even boats that get used regularly, it takes a day or two to unwinterize it, and then you have to find a place to go, and most people have jobs and can’t be like, ‘Oh, let me just drop everything and take care of this by next Tuesday.’”
Arthur Benson, a 77-year-old former chair of MICA’s undergraduate sculpture program who lives at BYB on a steel-hulled, two-masted sailboat he built himself, says “this is the end of an era” at BYB that leaves him with “limited options,” and has put him in “the detritus of circumstances.” But, he adds, “I’ll invent my way out of it the same way I’ve been inventing things for 60 years.”