Boat Show Will Be ‘Suite’

February 13, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — The 59th Annual Grand Rapids Boat Show docks for the first time at DeVos Place this week, and boats and boating equipment won’t be the only items for sale.

Parkland Properties owner Jonathan Rooks will unveil a brand new real estate investment opportunity at the show. He will offer condo hotel suites at The Weathervane Inn on White Lake in Montague, a development he built and opened four years ago. Rooks has 23 suites to sell, five of which include boat slips, and he has priced each one for less than $99,000.

“With Lake Michigan waterfront property values approaching $10,000 per foot of frontage, it would be difficult to purchase a cottage for less than $500,000. Comparatively, our investment alternative is 20 percent of the going entry price for shoreline property,” he said.

Rooks pointed out this is not a timeshare, as owners can occupy the suites as much or as little as they wish. And by going the condo route, he said buyers won’t be burdened with the everyday job of maintaining the suites.

“It’s less responsibility than a traditional condo, as well as less prohibitive since most condo associations don’t allow short-term rental, which in turn, prohibits the income opportunity offered at The Weathervane Inn,” he said.

The suites feature full-window walls, balconies over the water, fireplaces, Jacuzzi tubs and other conveniences.

“They are able to buy a hotel room, a boat slip, a pool, a Jacuzzi, an adults-only clubhouse and a family clubhouse — all that for just around the $100,000-mark,” said Rooks.

The real kicker to the deal, though, is when owners aren’t using their hotel suites Rooks said they can lease the units out and keep the rental revenue. For instance, an owner could bring in $20,000 annually if he or she leased the suite for 180 days each year at $110 a day.

“I can get people loans as low as 4 percent,” added Rooks, who is brokering the suites for hotel operator John Giamo.

Anchoring the boat show in DeVos Place this year adds a new dimension to it.

Showspan vice president and producer of the event Henri Boucher said the show will use all 162,000 square feet of the building’s exhibit space and the Grand Gallery. Overall, that means this year’s event will have twice the square footage that it had in recent years at the old Grand Center.

“Some of these boats weigh 30,000 pounds. We’re bringing in a special 60-ton crane to move them and to hoist sailboat masts,” said Boucher.

More space and the higher ceilings of DeVos Place allow the dealers to display bigger and taller boats.

“The biggest boat we’ve been able to show in the past was a 36-footer,” said Dave Fullbright, of Sail Place, who will unwrap a 42-foot Benetau and a 38-foot Catalina at the show.

Babbitt’s Sports Center, Skipper Bud’s, Action Water Sports, Hall’s Sport Center, Camp & Cruise, North Shore Marina, and Toledo Beach Marina are just a few of the 30 dealers that will be at the show, which opens Wednesday and runs through Sunday. Boat prices will range from $500 for a cartopper to $518,000 for a 44-foot-long Cruiser yacht.

The show is important to area dealers, as they say they usually make from a quarter to half of their annual sales at events like this one.

“The best time to buy is at a boat show,” said Don Pollard, owner of Pollard’s Landing in Holland. “Customers can compare models, features and prices from dozens of manufacturers all on one floor. And the deals this year are hard to believe.”    

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