The brains behind the project, Ra’anan Ben-Zur, developer and CEO, has spent four years working through complex regulations and finding strategic partners to ensure the project’s success. “We have now received all the regulatory approvals for the project, including the environmental permit, without which we cannot break ground,” he says. “It was hard to get them – it took years and a lot of work and study, but we have them now. In addition, both the Bahamas government and the local municipal government are very supportive of our project. So, apart from the usual construction-related problems, which are always there but not serious, we are in good shape. We expect to complete detailed planning and design during 2023, start construction in early 2024 and be operational in early 2026.”
When completed, Ben-Zur says the marina will help fill a major gap for superyacht owners in North America. “While I’m not an expert, I’ve been closely involved with the superyacht industry over the past few years, and it’s growing significantly in terms of both the number and size of yachts. But on the East Coast of the U.S., the lack of marina space for superyachts has reached a critical level, which he says is holding back the industry’s growth. “There are no marinas on the entire East Coast that can accommodate a 100 m [330 ft] yacht, and very few berths for 80 m [262 ft] boats,” he explains. “The market desperately needs our marina and would have needed five more marinas like ours, but there’s just no room to build them. Environmental regulations make it very difficult for us,” he adds.
Focus on superyachts
Ben-Zur is aware that superyachts have very different needs than normal sized boats, especially when it comes to the size of the harbor, depth and facilities offered. For this reason, Porto Habacoa was designed from the ground up with superyachts in mind. Other marinas in the area are much smaller and, in most cases, not as deep, Ben-Zur explains. They can only handle a few superyachts at a time and are limited in size to about 80 m (262 ft), with a few exceptions that go up to 90 m (295 ft). These marinas are generally very busy, with some reaching 100 percent occupancy year-round.