Stuart News
Kate Grusich - Staff Writer
August 17, 2005


A former junkyard near Stuart is about to become a multimillion-dollar sanctuary for yachts. 

But whatever you do, don't call the soon-to-open River Forest Yachting Center a boatyard or marina. 
The correct phrase is "long-term boat storage facility." 

"We are not going to look or act like a boatyard," said owner Joe Charles. "There's nothing like this around. It's going to look nice and be nice...We're taking the hassle out of owning a boat." 

Workers have put in long sweaty days to ensure the upscale boating center is up and running by month's end. 

Located at 9150 S.W. Pennsylvania Ave., River Forest is nestled in a 9-acre freshwater lagoon area connected to the St. Lucie Canal by a 700-foot channel. 

The project, valued at about $5 million, features a 45,000-square-foot, climate-controlled building for larger boats, decorated with green awnings and balcony railings. Two smaller buildings will be used for boat storage and maintenance work. 

Detailed landscaping and a picnic area near the canal also are included in project plans. 

Previously a junkyard, the property was purchased in 2003 for $1.25 million, property records show. Construction began in mid-February. 

Although it has yet to open, about a dozen boats already have been dropped off at the facility. Between indoor, outdoor and on-the-water spots, River Forest soon will have the space to accommodate about 200 boats, Charles said. 

For those hoping to join the center's "Hurricane Club," the clock is ticking. About 60 have already signed up, and will pay annual dues ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. Membership ensures wet or dry boat storage on-site in case of a hurricane. 

River Forest services include boat detailing, bottom painting, fueling and propeller work. Other assistance also will be available by arrangement, such as boat pickup and delivery and transportation to and from the yachting facility. 

"We can pick people up from the airport if need be," said general manager John Smith, adding a staff of about 10 to 12 employees eventually will help run the day-to-day operation. 

"We really want to accommodate our customers." 

For information on rentals or general facilities operations, call (772) 225-5250 or visit

Storage Contact

Tracy L. Campbell

Director of Client Services
P: 772-287-4131
F: 772-287-4148

LaBelle Contact

John J. Helfrich

LaBelle Manager
P: 863-612-0003
F: 863-612-9292

Stuart Contact

George F. Wharton

Stuart Manager
P: 772-287-4131
F: 772-287-4148

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