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In the District, laws around apartment living are pretty clear cut. In buildings constructed before 1975, rent can only increase so much per year. You can only evict someone under certain circumstances. If a landlord decides to sell the building, residents have the right to try and buy it.
Everything gets a lot more murky when your building is just a series of docks—-especially when they’re going through a transition as large as what’s in store for the Southwest Waterfront. A year ago, the inhabitants of Gangplank Marina weren’t sure what would happen to them when the ground finally broke. Would they have to leave, or could they hang on?
Now, it looks like they’ll be able to stay put through the whole process. Provisions for the temporary relocation to empty or makeshift docks have been written into the planned unit development application that’s now before the Zoning Commission, in a scheme not unlike how apartment dwellers might be transferred to different units as their building undergoes renovation. They’ll also have access to the same on-shore amenities, although they might be temporarily relocated.
Some things have yet to be ironed out. For example: Currently, there are only 94 liveaboard slots, and liveaboard status conveys with the boat that inhabits each slip. That increases the value of those boats by several thousand dollars, similar to having a liquor license or taxi medallion. The Gangplank Slipholders Association is still working to figure out how that system will or won’t change under the new regime. Also, there’s the inevitable increase in rent: Ultimately, the residents will benefit enormously from the new development, and will probably end up paying more than the $11.50 per foot of boat length they pay now.
In the mean time, the residents decided they could benefit from a little more public exposure. On the day that the Council declared to be Liveaboard Boater Day in D.C., with some financial help from the Wharf’s developers, the Slipholders Association hosted its first annual Boat Home tour. When you’re at the mercy of a large corporate entity, a little public recognition of your existence can’t hurt.
“We’re really hoping that development takes place here and that people take a lot more interest in the area,” Slipholders Association president Jason Kopp told the Examiner. “When people identify with an area they tend to take ownership of it, and though the waterfront is our backyard, we want people to think it is also their backyard.”
If you didn’t get a ticket this year—-they did sell out—-don’t miss the Boat Home Tour next year. These little vessels are amazing, and always bigger than they appear.