Close this search box.

GCM Contracting takes marina construction to new heights


dry storgage for vessels and yachtsRecreational boaters understand that wet slip storage presents a number of concerns, from the potential for sun-related fading and mold growth to hull damage, rust and rot. Dry storage is preferred, but poses some challenges like the delay of the launch time if a forklift operator isn’t immediately available. Also, these facilities often haven’t enough space for boat in need of maintenance, and are built to protect vessels from the sun and rain, but won’t necessarily withstand tropical storms and hurricanes. GCM Contracting Solutions, a full-service design-build construction firm in Fort Myers, Florida, recently unveiled plans that will redefine the concept of dry storage, thanks to a new dry stack smart marina built within a concrete fortress.

ASAR Automation

In 2011, GCM President and Founder Robert Brown began collaborating with an Austrian-based company to co-develop technology that would automate the storage and retrieval process for boats. The goal was to create a faster, more reliable system that would replace the traditional forklift or crane method of storing and retrieving boats, and ASAR came up as a perfect solution. This fully-automated, dry stack smart storage solution offers:

• A quick turnaround time from the storage rack to the water
• Space-efficient, aesthetically pleasing architectural designs
• Lower personnel costs due to automation
• Reduced potential for boat damage during transport
• Environmentally friendly electric transport systems

Each ASAR facility is fully customizable, allowing marina owners to change bay heights and racking configurations. It even allows for storage of vehicles in place of a boat so marina owners do not need to provide as much surface lot parking.

ASAR Marine

ASAR is a smart storage solution that increases a marina’s leasable cubic space by an average of 30% to 50% while offering an unmatched rack-to-water vessel delivery system. It can stores more boats inside a marine facility, as you can see in the graphic below:

dry storage for yachts and boats
Both storage occupy the same square footage, but with an interior rail system, the ASAR facility can store multiple boats on each level, from floor to ceiling. Conversely, the traditional dry stack facility contains a tremendous amount of unusable square footage, as indicated in red, because of inherent limitations of a forklift.

The marina owner can maximize profits and efficiency, and also overcome some traditional limitation of a forklift, as the storage at high levels of large vessels, because lifting capacity is severely limited at higher elevations. With ASAR, by carrying the vessel’s mass on center rails across the drive aisle and utilizing an extending platform shuttle to place the boats, ASAR rises above the limitations of a forklift method. This allows marina owners to store multiple small, medium or large boats on any level.

Safe Harbour Dry Stacks

Prior to 2008, the standard material to frame dry stack facility construction was steel, with metal racking systems and ribbed side panels enclosing the space. With tropical storms and hurricanes pounding Florida each year, GCM implemented a tilt-up, all-concrete construction method on a new marine project at Hamilton Harbor Yacht Club & Boatyard. The Naples, Florida, project became the first all-concrete dry stack facility in the world.
In 2016, Rose Marina, located on nearby Marco Island, underwent major renovations and redevelopment to also become an all-concrete dry stack.
Most recently, Gulf Star Marina on Fort Myers Beach demolished its decades-old facility and contracted with GCM to rebuild the marina using all-concrete tilt-up construction.
Safe Harbour Dry Stacks is a subsidiary of GCM Contracting Solutions, offering turnkey construction solutions specifically for the marine industry.

Comparing the Two: Metal vs. Concrete

Pre-engineered metal buildings still are commonly used in the marina industry because they are cost effective. As an authorized Butler Builder, GCM Contracting Solutions and Safe Harbour Dry Stacks offer marina owners the best of both worlds. Covering both metal and concrete dry stack facility construction, GCM provides the engineering expertise and technology to make virtually any building design or concept a reality. While both concrete and metal are feasible, concrete Safe Harbour Dry Stacks are built to resist pressure. Solidly pinned and cemented into place, each concrete panel provides support for the structure and protection from hurricane-rated wind. Thus, they render superior integrity compared to other types of building materials.

Concrete storage facilities offer a tremendous value and superior protection:
Four-Hour Fire Protection
Using 7¼- to 12-inch thick concrete panels to create a compartmentalized structure can slow down or stop a fire from spreading, which in turn can significantly lower the potential damage and repair costs caused by a fire.
175+ MPH Wind Rating
An all-concrete structure with steel reinforcements at every opening can achieve over 175+ mph wind rating and provide greater protection against tropical storms and hurricanes.
Lower Insurance Premiums
The design, increased security and safety of an all-concrete structure can help reduce insurance premiums by up to 15% for marina owners and boaters who store their vessels in a Safe Harbour Dry Stack.
Protection from the Environment
A fully enclosed facility offers greater protection from the elements, giving boat owners peace of mind and security in knowing that their vessel will remain safe and stay in top condition while not in use.

GCM’s latest project, Gulf Star Marina, will be the first in the world to featured ASAR’s stacker crane technology. The 29,000-square-foot tilt-up concrete facility will be able to accommodate boats up to 40 feet in length and features a fueling station and ship store. With waterfront real estate at a premium, compact ASAR facilities like that at Gulf Star Marina enable marina owners to generate a higher return on investment by accommodating more boats than a traditional facility.


Mimi’s fishing boats

Cantiere Mimì is embarking on a bold expansion into international markets while