An infrastructure facility from which an entire urban cluster can be grown

Today, yacht marinas are not only Sochi, but also Kazan and Tolyatti, St. Petersburg and Kronstadt, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok. The construction of marinas is gaining momentum, and, according to experts, ideally, each time we should not talk about creating a new infrastructure facility, but about a new round of development of coastal territories

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Recently, the construction of yacht marinas has gained such momentum that one can only wonder: why is this suddenly a sports and tourist destination, always considered elite and purely niche, began to be perceived as almost massive? According to Daria Kovalenko, project manager of the Atlas consulting bureau, this is primarily due to the intensive development of domestic tourism.

“Now the main work on improving the infrastructure for tourism and recreation is aimed at maximizing the disclosure of the country’s natural resources, and it is water resources that have great potential. Moreover, if earlier the main attention was paid to the development of marine marinas, now the potential of inland waters is being revealed. Russia ranks second in the world in terms of the length of inland waterways — 102 thousand kilometers, which is three times the length of our country’s coastline, and more than 300 cities are located along the river banks. While there are no developed networks of tourist river routes in the regions, including visits to adjacent small towns, it is necessary to work with this. Moreover, all water resources can be “packaged” into a single infrastructure,” the expert says.

“Among the main reasons for the growing interest in the creation of marinas, I would single out the popularization of sailing and motor sports and the increase in the yachting community, as well as the sanctions regime, which forced some yacht owners whose boats were previously based in foreign ports to transport them to Russia,” continues the Deputy General Director for Strategy and Marketing of GK “Alcor” Andrey German. According to his estimates, the shortage of marinas has increased against this background and amounts to 40%. At the same time, there are very few projects with sufficient high-quality port infrastructure.

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Yachts at the Sea station in Sochi. Photo: Dmitry Feoktistov/TASS

Anna Nosova, Director of territorial projects at the Power of the Wind yacht company, urges not to rush to call the creation of marinas a priority area of Russian tourism development: for the majority of the population, yachts, yachting, marinas are still associated with something rich, have an aura of some kind of excess, accessible only to a very narrow circle of people. And yet, indeed, in recent years there have been more and more projects in the field of tourism, where the creation of such facilities is envisaged.

“First of all, marinas are an infrastructure facility that allows ensuring the safety of people on the water, technical service for shipowners and the stability of the coastline in case of disaster. Yachting tourism is based on the use of sailing ships for entertainment, accommodation, meals and other services. This area used to be an exclusive form of consumption, but in recent years it has gradually become part of the general water tourism sector. For example, in Turkey, income from yacht tourism accounts for 1/4 of the income of the tourism industry as a whole, and in Greece, yacht tourism accounts for about 4.5% of its GDP, while general tourism provides 18%,” the interlocutor of the portal shares the data.

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Sunset on the Volga. Oleg Zhukov/TASS

“It is important that the marinas move from the category of an exclusive, inaccessible, but beautiful place to the category of space for everyone. Ordinary people keep their boats in marinas in the north of England and regularly ride them. If we talk about Russia, there are many such river sites on the Volga. Some already established points require landscaping, cultivation and a business approach – in this case they could become very attractive. In every coastal city, many people have their own swimming facilities, but it is important where they stand and how they are used: you can leave the boat at the shore, or you can put it in the marina area, then it will be a completely different life,” Oleg Shapiro, co—founder of the Wowhaus bureau, is sure.

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Yachts in Saratov. Photo: Dmitry Rogulin/TASS

According to his estimates, in order for yachting to become a tourism industry, marinas should be located on the coast every few kilometers. “It is impossible to build a single point on the Black Sea and assume that it will organize the sea travel market. To make a tour, a person must have the opportunity to move from one place to another, so it is important to develop a marina system,” Oleg Shapiro emphasizes.

Among the most interesting Russian marinas that are already operating or just being designed, experts first name the projects located in the south, for example, the Golden Symbol in Balaclava with a program for residents and tourists or the Sochi Grand Marina with a developed infrastructure for citizens (cafes, restaurants, shops, hotels, embankment), and for yachtsmen (regattas and other events are held here).

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Balaclava. Crimea. Photo: Mikhail Pochuev/TASS

In a separate line, everyone highlights the prospects of Sochi, where, within the framework of the federal concept for the development of yacht infrastructure in the Azov-Black Sea region, 12 new marinas are going to be built with a total cost of about a trillion rubles, and in total about 30 marinas are planned to be created in the region. Four pilot projects should be the first to appear: “Southern Reef” in Adler, “Lazarevskaya” in the village of Lazarevskoye, “Cool Canyon” in the village of Golovinka and “Waterfall” in the village of Sovetskaya Kvadzha.

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However, according to the stories of the initiates, there are other non—southern points of “marine attraction” on the map of the country – these are the Volga, Baikal, and the Far East. Isetsky Pond in Yekaterinburg, where the Komatec Yacht Club is located, the Seven Feet Yacht Club in Vladivostok, the Druzhba yacht port in Tolyatti, the Guest Berths project being implemented in the Leningrad Region, the Kronfort project. The harbor” in Kronstadt — everything is incalculable.

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Yachts on Lake Baikal. Photo: Victoria Telminova/Lori Photo Bank

What infrastructure facilities are required for a successful marina and what features should be taken into account when creating them? Does their close proximity to the marina make residential and commercial facilities more attractive, and can we say that marinas attract other development and thus become drivers of territorial development? Answering the questions The experts gave a number of practical tips, on the basis of which, if desired, you can draw up a full-scale roadmap for the creation of the marina and its surroundings.

Daria Kovalenko, Project Manager at Atlas Consulting Bureau:

“Marina’s model should be comprehensive. It is necessary that yacht ports play the role not only of technical facilities, but also of urban points of attraction based on the collaboration of business and administration. Such projects are mostly private, but they work for the development of the coastal urban area: embankments and public spaces are being transformed around them, which in turn are overgrown with services and opportunities for water entertainment and sports. In addition, river marinas can help the development of small towns and become their calling card. For example, in Estonia there is the Narva Yacht Port, where 20 berths for guest yachts have been built. Now there are various events, a sailing school for children, equipment rental, a cafe and a museum, and tourists rent houses and hotels nearby. Marinas can become a city-forming object, a tourist center. An example is the yacht club “Seven Feet” in Vladivostok. There are more than 200 parking spaces, a shop, a service center, an administrative building, a small hotel on the water, and a parking lot are located on the territory. Competitions and various events for tourists and locals are held here. Children and adults can attend the sailing school. In order for the marinas to become an iconic place, a point of attraction for residents and tourists, it is necessary to take into account the interests of all visitors. For local residents, it is important to have a walking area, a comfortable and safe environment, and equipment rental points. You can attract tourists with the help of cultural and educational routes, cafes and restaurants with local cuisine and views of the reservoir, retail outlets and various services. Transport accessibility and convenient navigation with tourist information centers are also important. And for yachtsmen, the marina must have all the necessary infrastructure: points of sanitary services, waste disposal, bunkering, repair and paperwork or registration. If the marinas are integrated into the urban environment and develop comprehensively, attracting more and more residents and tourists, they will become drivers of the development of the surrounding areas. Thanks to the active landscaping in recent years, many territories are being transformed, which also changes the preferences of residents regarding where they want to live and in which public spaces to spend time. Previously inconspicuous streets sometimes become popular due to the fact that the embankment was reconstructed nearby or a new gastronomy was opened, and the appearance of marinas is no exception, their development can lead to the same results.”

Andrey German, Deputy General Director for Strategy and Marketing of Alcor Group:

“As for infrastructure facilities, of course, first of all it is everything that provides the convenience of entering the marina and mooring: from the location relative to the coastline and currents to the system of hydraulic structures, the quality of mooring equipment, thoughtfulness and adaptability for vessels of different types and sizes. It is also important to consider the adjacent logistics: passage / passage to the berth, convenience of loading and unloading operations, availability and convenience of lockers for storage on the territory of the marina, availability and parameters of marine cranes for lifting yachts ashore, routes to the boathouse or shore storage area, the boathouses themselves for warm winter storage, their configuration and area. In addition, it is important how developed the repair unit is, the availability of necessary tools and specialists in it. When organizing a sailing school in the marina for small boats, which are usually used by young yachtsmen, a slip is required for descent and ascent. Well, I would also mention the accompanying infrastructure that provides comfort to members of the yacht club, crew and guests: showers, hotel rooms, cafes and restaurants, recreation facilities and meetings of participants. By the way, we took into account all these important factors for a high-quality marina when developing the concept of the Kronfort project. Harbor” in Kronstadt, which we are implementing in the Island of Forts cluster (we developed the project in partnership with professionals in their field, people who not only have extensive experience in the implementation of yacht ports, but are also active yachtsmen themselves). A yacht port, as a rule, acts as a core, which provides an opportunity to grow a cluster, which will include not only the actual infrastructure of the marina, but also commercial facilities, residential complexes. He is the pivot for the life growing around him. This neighborhood is very convenient for yachtsmen. So, in the case of the Kronfort project. Harbor” residents do not need to waste time on the way to the port: the marina will be located next to residential areas, that is, leaving the house, you will find yourself next to the harbor, and leaving the marina on a yacht, you will actually find yourself in the open sea.”

Maxim Dolgov, founder of the DA architectural workshop:

“First of all, for the successful functioning of the marina, it is necessary to develop high-quality infrastructure facilities: parking lots, gas stations, repair bases. If yachts are supposed to be used for inbound and outbound tourism, the subjects of control are: customs and border services. Next are the facilities for recreation and entertainment: shops, restaurants, hotels. It is important for tourists to be given the opportunity to walk along the boulevard, go to the shops on the promenade, sit on the terrace of a restaurant in a cozy square — something that is appreciated in Mediterranean cities. When working with shaping, one feature must be taken into account: most yacht users come on vacation, so the image of the marinas is revealed from a “bird’s eye view”. But in this matter, the main thing is not to get carried away, so that complex forms do not replace the functionality. As international experience shows, yachting can be a good factor in economic development. According to the Alliance Marine Development, 111 marinas with almost 40 thousand seats operate in Italy, 241 for 670 thousand yachts in Greece, and 329 marinas with 112 thousand seats in Spain. In Turkey, yachting brought more than 10 billion euros to the economy in 2023. Although marinas do not generate a large flow of users, they attract wealthy people who can afford yachting to the location. This is an attractive element of the tourist entertainment complex: marinas raise the status of the territory, become centers of attraction and development of coastal areas. Comprehensive development of territories is extremely important. In order for marinas to attract yachtsmen, a good tourist infrastructure is needed with attractive locations for walks, excursions and shopping, with restaurants and clubs, just like on the Mediterranean coast.”

Elena Kabesheva, commercial director of the resort real estate developer Five:

“From the point of view of yachtsmen and those who went for a sailboat ride, there are not enough full—fledged recreation areas – restaurants, cafes, lounge areas. If an athlete goes swimming for a few days, upon returning from a trip he needs to live somewhere – hotel services and services located within walking distance from the marina are important. From the point of view of architecture, the marinas have their own classical canons, on which its location depends. Marina generates traffic by itself. For example, people come to the territory of the Imereti port in Sirius as a kind of attraction to look at beautiful ships. As for housing, any proximity to the water, especially with romantic sea views and beautiful sailboats, always has a positive impact on demand, so the port, if it is not industrial, will always be a price driver, and the marina is a driver of the development of the territory. And the most successful combination, in my opinion, will be the presence of residential real estate, hotels and service apartments on the territory (in addition to developed infrastructure).”

Anna Nosova, Director of territorial projects of the yacht company “Wind Power”:

“The marina is an infrastructure facility that includes a complex of structures, and the basis is hydraulic structures, which can make up to 70% (or more) the cost of the entire marina. The main thing is coastal protection and mooring walls: the main task of the marina is to ensure the safety of ships and buildings on the shore. The infrastructure on the shore can be completely diverse and depends on the business concept of the marina, on its location in terms of natural features (currents, wind protection, etc.), on the recreational potential of the territories around and their popularity with vacationers, on many factors – everything is very individual. At the same time, the marina makes the neighboring objects attractive, greatly increasing the capitalization of the land around by creating new tourist services that you will not find in housing or standard commerce. So the appearance of such facilities always becomes a driver for the development of territories, increasing their accessibility and sustainability. But still, the basis of the economy of a yacht marina is a service for shipowners, it is an opportunity to safely moor, refuel and connect to water and electricity, it is technical all—season maintenance, storage and so on. And the economy of one marina will not work unless a network of such facilities is built on waterways. In addition, the marina is a magnet for tourists, it is beautiful, and often technical functions are combined with a service for tourists so that they can comfortably travel and live in a boat, moving from marina to marina.”

Oleg Shapiro, co-founder of the Wowhaus bureau:

“It is clear that the marina necessarily needs berths, places for long-term parking, boathouses, lifts for ships, the administration building. Most often, marinas have repair facilities, and maintenance parking lots for small yachts are located. This is the technical part. And there is the second part of the marina — a public place. Restaurants, hotels, and spaces for yacht club members can be located here. The marina also has an open part, as, as a rule, it is a beautiful place and a point of attraction for tourists. There are cafes, a promenade, shops. At the same time, it is important that a normal life takes place in this space: children and adults come to the marina to learn yachting, and local residents keep their boats here, so that the marina is not only a tourist destination, but also the epitome of the lifestyle of a coastal city. The marina can host exhibitions, or regattas, or citywide celebrations. This is a large complex that forms a whole hub of urban activity around itself. A good marina is a landmark of the coastal city. Most often, a zone of activity develops around the marinas: retail (shopping areas), service companies, services and hotels. Recently, an architectural competition was held to create the concept of the resort “New Anapa”. And in the terms of reference, it was assumed that one of the centers of activity of this complex would be the marina, around which all participants placed one of the main squares of the resort. In general, the influence of the marina and housing on the attractiveness of the place is a mutual process. In river and seaside towns, there are a certain number of houses that are located next to the shore. And, of course, one of the key advantages of such territories is the city marina or the ability to store boats directly inside the residential complex.”

Moving from general considerations to specifics, Oleg Shapiro cites the example of France in the 1960s: then the middle class was emerging in the country, and it was assumed that its representatives could afford to have their own small ships. “A whole port city of Grimaud was built especially for them near Saint Tropez. A network of canals was created in it, along which houses with private berths stood. People who owned boats rented and bought houses there. There is a full-fledged infrastructure in Port Grimaud: a square, a promenade with plane trees, a park with a petang, churches, schools, hospitals. And there is a separate marina where you can leave a small sailboat and go for a walk around the city,” the expert says.

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Port Grimaud. Photo: Yulia Vinogradova/Reuters

“Port Grimaud has become one of the most important points of attraction on the coast of Saint Tropez. The traditional life of a French seaside town appeared in it, but it was invented and built anew. In our country, such a place could be arranged in the Zavidovo National Park on the Volga or on one of the seas. Marinas are a promising way of developing territories that can be implemented in Russia,” Oleg Shapiro sums up.


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