Cruising condos

Minnesota-based River Cities is proposing a floating condo community that would be based in Houston.

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The developer, who is targeting retirees, is showing a model condo at the Marina Del Sol in Kemah through Feb. 6.

The boat, which will be 600 feet long and called the Marquette, would spend more days in Texas than in any other state, according to the developer, which hopes it will eventually dock at the Bayport cruise terminal or someplace that has “a less commercial feel.”

“While we are in town, we will be looking at the possibilities,” developer David Nelson said. “Especially in the river towns north of the Gulf, the docking location usually puts us right in the middle of town, which is very convenient and usually a fun place to be. Ideally, if we could find a similar place in Houston, we would be very happy, especially since it will be our longest stop of the year –10 days.”

The boat would cruise the inland waterways along the Gulf coast in the winter and northern rivers within the U.S. in the summer, getting as far north as Minnesota.

The boat would have 180 condos, restaurants, lounges, swimming pools and a golf course.

Not surprisingly, developers Bill Tout and Nelson are self-funding the $109 million project.

“Unfortunately, bankers only do what has been done before, so we are unable to get banks to participate in financing our vessel,” Nelson said.

A project like the Marquette has never been done on the inland waterways, said Nelson, who has worked on smaller boats. His largest boat project was $1.3 million houseboat, he said.

The condos cost from $310,000 per unit to $1.8 million for a deluxe penthouse. Or $55,000 will get you a two-month shared unit. There’s also a homeowners maintenance fee, which covers the shared cruising costs, of $1,200 to $2,500 per month.

So far, most sales, about 25 percent of the boat, have been full ownership, Tout said. Construction won’t begin until enough units are sold to make the project viable. The youngest buyer so far is 49 and oldest is 84, according to the developers, who have buyers from Alaska to Australia.

Author: Purva Patel, Houston Chronicle