Gulf Star Marina, located on Fort Myers Beach, lives up to its nickname, “the Star of boat storage.” A sophisticated concrete Tilt-Up structure houses ASAR, the automated storage system that earned Gulf Star the title of the world’s first fully automated marina.

After redevelopment, Gulf Star is unrecognizable from its original pre-engineered metal structure built in the 1970’s and capable of holding only 44 boats. Not only did the original facility lack office space, a ship store, and bathrooms for employees and patrons, its supporting columns were so rusted that they practically crumbled during demolition.

After being named a Tilt-Up Achievement Award winner by the Tilt-Up Concrete Association in 2020, the new and improved Gulf Star Marina is on track to become a destination for boaters and the envy of marina owners across the nation.

Below, read about the radical transformation that increased storage capacity from 44 boats to over 150 within the same facility footprint.

Finding a Construction Method that Offers Longevity, Durability, and Safety

After standing for over 50 years, Gulf Star Marina’s original pre-engineered metal structure was not ideal for protecting boats from Florida’s torrential downpours, hurricane winds, and relentless heat and humidity. The owners of this marina desired a more durable, long-lasting solution for their new facility, which is how concrete Tilt-Up construction became the focus of the conversation.

Gulf Star’s exterior consists of 64 concrete Tilt-Up panels, which were poured and erected within the site footprint of 28,800 square feet. With the panels standing 76 feet tall, and the heaviest panel weighing 250,000 pounds, it was no simple task forming, moving, and lifting these mammoth slabs within such a compact area.

To mitigate any potential mistakes that could result in serious damage or injury, panel erection days were choreographed weeks in advance to ensure the safety of the crew and that construction would flow seamlessly. Following construction, the concrete panels were painted and adorned with light fixtures, trim, and other structural details.

Aside from aesthetic customizability, concrete Tilt-Up construction offers a wide range of benefits, including a four-hour fire rating, 200+ miles per hour wind rating, and built-in heat and sound insulation. In Gulf Star Marina’s case, these added safety features help to lower insurance premiums and satisfy municipality-mandated construction guidelines and restrictions.
To see more Tilt-Up Concrete construction from GCM Contracting Solutions, click here.

Making the Jump from Traditional to Automated

Prior to integrating automation, Gulf Star Marina utilized two forklifts to store and retrieve boats. While forklifts are the most common storage method, they require routine maintenance and repairs, emit fumes that are hazardous to the environment, and must be driven by qualified operators who are expensive to hire and hard to retain. ASAR automated storage presented a solution to all of these concerns, as well as a drastically improved method for faster, more reliable vessel storage and retrieval.

ASAR is a belt-driven, fully automated storage system co-developed by GCM Contracting Solutions and LTW Intralogistics in 2011. This technology was created to effectively replace the traditional forklift, offering a faster, more reliable solution for storing marine vessels, shipping containers, and even automobiles.

Gulf Star Marina can store approximately 155 boats up to 40 feet in length, representing nearly a 50% increase in storage capacity after redevelopment. This increase in rentable cubic space was achieved through the elimination of the forklift drive aisle, which allows the flexibility to store multiple vessels deep in the same bay and the capability to store even the heaviest vessels on the upper racks.

Patrons of Gulf Star Marina enjoy quick boat delivery times made possible by the automated storage system and easy access to the Gulf of Mexico from Gulf Star’s launching point. After operating for less than a year, Gulf Star Marina has already become a favorite spot for boaters around Fort Myers Beach.
To get information on slip pricing and availability at Gulf Star Marina, click here.

Gulf Star Recognized for Outstanding Tilt-Up Design and Execution

In 2020, Gulf Star Marina was named a Tilt-Up Achievement Award winner by the Tilt-Up Concrete Association. For 30 years, this award has highlighted innovation, versatility, and beauty in concrete tilt-wall design and construction on an international scale.

The award was presented to GCM Contracting Solutions, the general contractor for Gulf Star Marina. GCM is a full-service, design-build contracting firm providing turn-key construction solutions in Southwest Florida and beyond. They specialize in architectural and structural design, Tilt-Up construction, as well as dry-stack boat storage and automated storage-and-retrieval for marine, warehousing and automotive applications.

Solve capacity issues, increase revenue, and turn your marina into a more profitable, more appealing destination – that’s only the beginning of what’s possible with automated storage. If you’re a marina owner/operator, developer, or real estate buyer, we’d love to talk to you about your property and help determine whether automation technology is a viable solution for you.

Visit the Smart Storage Learning Center for more articles, case studies, and video interviews focused on automated dry-stack technology and marina redevelopment.