Jacobs offers to fund Downtown-area marina

Share this:
October 27, 2003 // UPDATED 11:06 am - April 30, 2007
By: Scott Russell
Scott Russell

Financier/boat magnate says he'll buy, and Park Board can share profits

Twin Cities financier and boat-making magnate Irwin Jacobs says he wants to build the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board a marina in front of its new headquarters just north of Downtown.

Jacobs showed up at the Park Board's Oct. 15 meeting and made his pitch briefly during its open time. The project needed to be "upscale" and "to create an image," he said. He pledged to put his resources behind it, so the Park Board would have no financial risk but could share in the profits.

The Park Board moved into its new riverfront headquarters, 2117 W. River Road N., this summer. This fall, it voted to request marina construction funds from the 2004 Legislature -- its number-two borrowing priority behind more money for Lake of the Isles repairs.

The Park Board views a marina as a potential moneymaker and as a catalyst for riverfront redevelopment.

Jacobs, a former corporate raider who grew up in North Minneapolis, is chair of Minneapolis-based Genmar, the world's largest manufacturer of recreational boats. Genmar had $1.1 billion in sales in the 2003 model year, selling 18 different brands, including Crestliner, Glastron and Lund, according to its Web site.

Jacobs told the Park Board members he was "not interested in creating controversy" and if they were not interested in his involvement, he would walk away.

After the meeting, Jacobs said the marina should get built in stages, as demand grows. He would like to rent out 15,000 to 17,000 square feet in the Park Board's headquarters building to support marina activities and build a service building on the river. The riverfront building could include a restaurant, though someone else would run it, he said.

Jacobs estimated his initial investment in the seven-figure range.

"I don't want it [the marina] to be overly commercial," he said. "I don't want it all things to all people -- no junk docks or junk boats."

Marina plans are still in their infancy. The Park Board Commissioners took no action. Commissioner Walt Dziedzic floated the idea of holding a bass-fishing tournament.

The Board referred Jacobs to Assistant Superintendent Judd Rietkerk, the marina's point person.