Finch and Chubb owners buy Champlain Harbor Marina

I t may not be on the same level as Manifest Destiny, but the Albany businessmen who purchased Lock 12 Marina earlier this year have focused their gaze west, all the way across Champlain Harbor.

Bill Brina and Hillary “Bumper” Wagoner of Dagon Enterprises, announced this week that they finalized an agreement to purchase Champlain Harbor Marina and RV Park, giving the duo ownership of both of Whitehall’s marinas.

In an e-mail, Brina said the properties will be combined and operated as the Whitehall Marina at Lock 12 and the Whitehall RV Park.

“We closed on the purchase of what was most recently known as the Champlain Harbor Marina and RV Park on May 16,” Brina said. “We are now the owners and operators, and the properties are open and providing services.

“This acquisition and transfer occurred on a very accelerated basis, so we are in scramble mode for the next few days and even weeks as we organize, hire and provide services.”

Wagoner declined to disclose the sum they paid for the marina, saying only that they purchased it at fair market value.

Brina and Wagoner purchased Lock 12 Marina and Finch and Chubb Restaurant for $100,000 at a public auction in March and closed the sale on May 4.

Ray and Linda Faville shut the marina and eatery last fall after 26 years in business and turned the property over to Home Loan Investment Bank as part of a bankruptcy plan.

 

More investment

Shortly after the auction, Brina said he believed Whitehall was ripe for economic renewal and revitalization and pledged he and Wagoner would be making additional investments in the community, a promise they fulfilled last week.

Brina said he and Wagoner had identified three communities along the Hudson River and Champlain Canal, including Whitehall, where they hoped to purchase distressed properties and establish viable businesses.

The investments they made in Whitehall are the beginning of that plan and they will pursue other opportunities after they’ve had a chance to get the local marinas viable.

Wagoner said they’ve been interested in the marina since last fall and had toured the property on two previous occasions.

Despite having purchase Lock 12 first, he said their sight was always on Champlain Harbor Marina.

“That was the prize all along. It’s was just a matter of getting the right price,” Wagoner said. The marina was abuzz with activity Monday morning as a cadre of employees was busy prepping the facility for the upcoming season.

The combined facility will be a full service marina with dockage, fuel, showers, a ship-to-shore store, repair facilities, storage, restaurant and tavern, and lodging.

Marina services previously offered at Lock 12, including a store, will not be reopened because those services will be offered across the bay at the former Champlain Harbor Marina.

Fuel tanks at the Lock 12 sight will be emptied, removed and sold, and a demasting facility will gradually be decommissioned after a new facility is installed across the harbor.

The Inn at Lock 12 will reopen by this weekend on a limited basis, and Finch and Chubb will reopen in time for the July 4 weekend, as a casual but upscale roadside and dockside fine-dining destination featuring the cuisine of LeAnn Ingalls.

Ingalls will also manage the Champlain Harbor Smokehouse, which was reopened Tuesday as Dagon’s Den and Smokehouse. Josh Tuttle, a young chef who recently moved to Whitehall, will be the head chef at the new eatery.

Wagoner, whose family owns Wagoner’s Marina on Alexandria Bay in upstate New York and has been involved with the marina industry his entire life, will manage the daily operations of the facility.

 

Renewed ventures

“We have the financial resources and the marina management expertise to make this takeover a success and to provide quality services to boaters and the Whitehall community. And, in LeAnn and Josh, we have the talent and the restaurant background needed to resurrect the Finch and Chubb as a destination restaurant and make Dagon’s Den the premiere dockside BBQ attraction in the region,” Brina said.

Wagoner said he and Brina have a number of improvements they plan on making in the coming months, including new electrical services in both buildings, and the installing and enhancement of waterside patio areas.

Bethe Reynolds, president of the Whitehall Chamber of Commerce, said the purchase is another positive event for the community, which has seen three of its most visible landmarks — the Armory and both marinas — sold in the past nine months.

“This is great for the community and great for anyone traveling through Whitehall.

The Armory was exciting and so it this. You have investments at both ends of the village. We are very encouraged. This shows Whitehall is a place to invest. It’s up and coming.

“They (Brina and Armory owner Greg Gross) looked at more than one place to invest their money but they choose Whitehall. They want to see the rest of the village and town thrive. They aren’t here for the short term. They want to build up these businesses. They are serious, competent investors.”

 

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