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April 21, 2010

Summerfield Boat Works – New River, Fort Lauderdale

Filed under: Navigating — Tags: — Richard Jordan @ 1:32 pm

Summerfield Aerial Cerca 1998

Summerfield Boat Works was a boat yard across from Lauderdale Marine, Broward Marine, and Riverbend on the South Fork of the New River in Fort Lauderdale, Florida from 1930 to 2006. The yard sold in early 2005 and closed down in 2006. I remember this sale well as our brokerage office was at Summerfields. We had just finished renovating the back office when the news came. The property sold during the boom years of the real estate market for $5 million and then again $10 million according to Broward County Property Records. In 2009 Regions bank foreclosed on the New Orleans developer. On September 14 2010, the bank unloaded the property for $1.25 million according to the same Broward Records.

But still the property lies dormant. Everyone I talk to expresses the disappointment with the sale and the current status of Summerfields. “It makes me sick,” says a former yard hand there. If it had turned out financially better for the purchasers, the closure might make more sense. But to tear the yard down and do nothing for five years really is not only heartbreaking but a waste of resources.

The earliest records note a C.R. Breckenridge Boat Yard which was also known as Lauderdale Yacht Basin in 1933. In 1940, the story goes that Henry Summerfield sailed a racing sloop from Toledo, Ohio to New York, and then to Fort Lauderdale where he traded the boat for the Breckenridge Boat Yard. The yard was only a fourth the size of the current 3.5 acre property. The address was 1500 Davie Boulevard as there were only a few dirt streets heading south to the marina. The current address is 1500 SW 17th Street.

Workers at Summerfieds Cerca 1976

During the 1940’s, the yard serviced World War II coastal patrol boats and stored confiscated yachts. In 1950, Summerfield purchased storage sheds from federal government’s WWII surplus facility in Boca Raton, Florida. He damn near built the sheds himself. A railroad line cut through Shady Banks and would bring boats to the marina. During the 1950’s, the Shady Banks neighborhood starting growing up around the boat yard. Gill Construction Co. dredged the two north/south canals and developed waterfront homes along 18th Terrace and 19th Ave. M.A. Hortt, a large land owner, donated property to the Broward School Board. In 1960, Hank Summerfield had a sudden heart attack and died, but the yard stayed family owned. The Bossert Isles south of the school were mostly built in the 1960’s.

In the 1970’s and 1980’s, some drug smugglers reputedly lived in the area. The Hortt School closed in 1985. Personally, I lived aboard a 53′ wood sloop along the canal across from Summerfields. For young liveaboards including my family, this canal was a great location. It was the only zoned liveaboard area on the South Fork, had deep water, fair rates, and was close to the boat yards.

Summerfield Boat Works

Summerfield Boat Works PDF Folder (Click To Download)

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, Tom Correll was the yard General Manager. Under him were Paul and John. Tom also operated a Summerfield Yacht Brokerage out the main office. A worker at the yard tells how he help set up a network around 1990. “We made a 1 inch conduit and fed a 9 wire data cable through from one end of the yard to the other. John has this crazy idea that the computers at traveller lift office at one end should be able to communicate to the main office computers. It was a ‘network.’ John wrote all the software, and darn if it not work.”

In 1998, our brokerage started renting the Summerfield office. In 1999, John Lee became the yard manager. In 2003, we moved in full time and remolded it with flower beds, tore out the shower, and laid down a composite wood tile floor in the back office. This was all in vain as by 2005, we had to move out because of the new ownership, Greyhawk. They purchased the yard and sought to make it a storage facility for megayachts. Greyhawk rented out 10 of 26 slips before the market went wrong. They sold to a New Orleans developer. In 2009, Regions bank forclosed on the property. It was for sale in 2010 asking $7.5 million before being sold for $1.25 million.

References

  • Interview with Tom Correll (late 2009)
  • Interview with Shady Banks residents (March 2010)
  • Interview with Kit Denison (April 2010)
  • Interview with Preston Larus (April 20, 2010)
  • Interview with John Lee (May 2010)
  • Interview with Bixby Hill (November 2010)
  • “History Shady Banks” by Marty Steinberg, Shady Banks Civic Association
  • “Boat yard, homes coexist” by William Hawkins, Waterfront News
  • “Boatyard bought as site for yacht club” by Joseph Mann, Sun-Sentinel
  • “Starlite Landing” by Sue Peterson, WFN
  • Broward County Records years 1935-1965
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  • Bob Hartman

    My father and Hank Summerfield were friends in Toledo. They had great plans of sailing a boat to Central or South America and bringing back lumber. Hank and my dad were to go into business as partners at the boat yard but had a falling out and Hank went on to establish the business and my dad went to work building the Prospector for Jack Collison over at Cypress Bend. After the war started dad went to California to design and build Air Sea Rescue boats for the Navy. When the war ended we (me, my mom and dad) moved back to Ft Lauderdale where dad built a 40′ sloop on the banks of New River for Gill Sayward called the Starlight. That is how Starlight Landing got its name. I grew up at Starlight Landing and have fond memories of the area. As an adult I sailed my boat south from Michigan in 1981 and had work done at Summerfield Boatworks. I was saddened to see what became of that historic business.

  • Steve & Rebecca Flokstra

    We used to stay at Summerfield’s in 1991-92 on our Coronado Sailboat – we got to know several locals. Loved the spot, loved the people! Sheephead fish used to eat the barnicles off for us! Glad to know the history – we remember the Jungle Queen going by and waving to the tourist! Awe such memories! What ever happened to George and Ginger!? Sad to know that some big corporation bought it and it is sitting idle!!!

  • I don’t know where George and Ginger are. Update to the story: On September 14, 2010, a group named Point Breeze purchased the yard for $1.25 million according to Broward County Property Records.

  • mark blackburn

    I hauled my boat at Summerfields in both 2002 and 2003.  In ’03 I spent over a month in the yard living aboard while re-fitting my boat.  Summerfield’s was a fantastic business–ethical, fair, and served the wonderful So. Florida boating community with fairness & decent pricing.   I was astonished that the business & yard had disappeared a short time later.    On a visit to Florida (I now live in Hawaii) in 2007 I made the special point to drive over to visit Summerfield’s, since I had such pleasant memories of being there.   GONE!……………WTF?  I was dumbfounded.   I did not know what happended until I saw this page.   My take:  As for the sale & subsequent demise of the yard, the business, and the Goodwill of Summerfields, –this was a tragic & wasteful transformation fueled by the speculative bubble created by the boom & bust cycles orchestrated by our central bank and congress who are essentially raping, pillaging, and plundering anyone and anything they can before the whole rotten system they’ve created comes crashing down.  Summerfield’s demise is just one small tragedy among many.   I remember it fondly.   No gangbankster who has acquired this property has done anything with it.   Everyone (including the robberbankers) would be better off if Summerfield’s was still in business.   (Although if they received a cool 10 million for the land, hopefully they’ve retired to a free & rational country somewhere).  

  • Claudette

    It’s been years, but last I heard,  Ginger moved to the Manatee Pocket area in Stuart. George and Isis (and no doubt his fancy barbeque) moved out of state to a new job…think in the Kentucky Lakes area (???). I helped George’s brother get another dock across the river from SBW…if  happen to still be there I’ll stop by and ask when next get down that way. 

    I have a box full of old pictures of a number of boats in the yard (the classiest,  ugliest, most strange or hopeless, or noteworthy). Also travelift scenes,  holiday events, images during hurricane Andrew hunkered down in the office, the horrific yard fire at Broward (with the heat felt and the embers raining on SBW), and of  gatherings at “George’s Dock”.  Hoping to scan these and will post a link here when I do. Besides yacht brokering, I continue to do a number of yacht “portraits” anchored, underway, or silhouetted against sunrises adjacent the Fort Pierce Inlet. 

  • Toni Jones

    Do you happen to know what happened to Kim Hollins?
    He was an older boat delivery captain and then later opened up a woodworking shop with Gerry Fitzgerald in the 1980s.
    He lived near Summerfields with his near blind wife Sally. He frequented Summerfields Boat works.

    Thank you,

    Toni Jones
    tonibjones@comcast.net

  • Jenny Hollins

    He died March 1992. This is his daughter Jenny from Bend OR. Was looking for information regarding my father and ran across your post.

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