Lido Shipyard, the largest and one of the oldest shipyards in Newport Beach, will close at the end of this month, 36 years after Harold Ayres started the boat-repair business from scratch.
Ayres' son Patrick, who was born the same year that Lido opened for business and now is the shipyard's president, cited the skyrocketing value of waterfront property as the reason for Lido's closure. He said a landlord could make about three times as much money from office space on the property.
The owner of the property on Lido Park Drive, Curci-Turner Co. of Newport Beach, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Ayres said the landlord did not offer to renew Lido's present lease. Ayres said he had rejected a proposal in June to let Lido continue leasing 20% of the 1.7 acres it occupies for 100% of the current rent. The smaller plot, Ayres said, would leave "barely enough room to turn around."
Ayres said he believes Curci-Turner plans to use most of the land for office buildings and restaurants but will solicit bids in November from other shipyards interested in operating a small repair facility on the site. He said a bid from Lido was unlikely.
Ayres said the yard's closure will leave many Orange County boaters without a local repair yard. Smaller shipyards in Newport Beach can't serve the larger boats--up to 120 feet in length--that Lido is equipped to handle. Those customers will have to go to Los Angeles, Long Beach or San Diego to get their boats serviced, he said.
The closure will cost 23 shop workers and eight administrative employees their jobs, Ayres said. Founder Harold Ayres, 73, probably will go into semi-retirement, his son said. The younger Ayres said he will look for a new venture, possibly in real estate.
Ayres had hoped to modernize the shipyard and said his plans had been supported by customers, many of whom had offered financial help.
But when Curci-Turner decided to offer only 20% of the lot, or three-tenths of an acre, for continuing use as a shipyard, those plans and offers were set aside, Ayres said.
Trying to Finish Repairs
Lido enjoyed a good year financially, Ayres said, adding that boats still are sitting in the shipyard and that work is being rushed to completion before the Sept. 30 closing.
But he said that the boating business has slowed in recent years and that the decline in boat sales has affected the yard.
Ayres said he doesn't blame his landlord for the closure of the boat yard. "I can't blame him for wanting to get money for his land. That's how everybody in Orange County makes a living--they make money off of their property," he said.