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New Lake Wylie marina on pace to open in 2020

Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, N.C. 9/20/2019 By Michael Barrett, Gaston Gazette
a close up of a map: This master plan for the McLean residential development shows the new marina's proximity along Lake Wylie to the other neighborhoods within the community. [McLean] © McLean/Gaston Gazette/Gaston Gazette/TNS This master plan for the McLean residential development shows the new marina's proximity along Lake Wylie to the other neighborhoods within the community. [McLean]

For all the miles of shoreline that Gaston County occupies along Lake Wylie and the Catawba and South Fork rivers, a surprising dearth of businesses there have catered to watercraft enthusiasts over the years.

But a new venue slated to open in 2020 will aim to help fill that longtime gap, as part of a major residential development that continues to take shape on the southern tip of Belmont. Morningstar Marinas at McLean aims to become a prominent new amenity at the gateway to Gaston County along N.C. 279/South New Hope Road at the Seven Oaks bridge.

a close up of a map: This site plan shows how a new marina, restaurant, event lawn and future commercial site will be positioned near South New Hope Road at the Seven Oaks Bridge that connects with South Carolina. [Morningside Marinas at McLean] © Morningside Marinas at McLean/Gaston Gazette/Gaston Gazette/TNS This site plan shows how a new marina, restaurant, event lawn and future commercial site will be positioned near South New Hope Road at the Seven Oaks Bridge that connects with South Carolina. [Morningside Marinas at McLean]

Construction has been under way at the site for several months now, and the marina itself will include 300 dry slips, 35 wet slips and a 'ship's store' with a full line of standard boating supplies. But the land is also being developed to include features such as a waterfront event lawn, a restaurant with ample views of the lake, and two additional commercial parcels to be filled in the future.

a truck driving down a dirt road: Work continues on the new Gaston County venue to be known as Morningstar Marinas at McLean, along  South New Hope Road and Lake Wylie on Wednesday morning, September 18, 2019. [Mike Hensdill/The Gaston Gazette] © Mike Hensdill/The Gaston Gazette/Gaston Gazette/TNS Work continues on the new Gaston County venue to be known as Morningstar Marinas at McLean, along South New Hope Road and Lake Wylie on Wednesday morning, September 18, 2019. [Mike Hensdill/The Gaston Gazette]

'The time is right'

The new construction will be the latest addition to the massive housing community known as McLean, which is made up of three distinct neighborhoods known as South Shore, The Conservancy and Overlook. The development will ultimately consist of about 800 residences, including mostly single-family houses with a smaller number of townhomes.

The chief developer, NW Lake Wylie LLC, bought 670 acres there for $8.9 million in 2013 and began work on a decade-long process of building everything out.

Steven Hinshaw, the principal of NW Lake Wylie, acknowledged that the marina has been a long-awaited amenity that will benefit nearby residents.

"This marina will combine state-of-the-art technology and a design tailored to the character of McLean," he said.

The area around Lake Wylie area is in the midst of a healthy and rapid growth cycle, Hinshaw said.

"So the time is right," he said, for a new top-of-the-line marina complex.

Waterfront dining

The construction of a waterfront restaurant stands to serve as yet another notable addition to the area, as such eateries are uncommon along Lake Wylie. The space occupied by Papa Doc's Shore Club, formerly known as T-Bones on the Lake, has had a veritable monopoly on that market for years on the Lake Wylie side of the Buster Boyd Bridge.

a tractor is in the dirt: Work continues on the new Gaston County venue to be known as Morningstar Marinas at McLean, along  South New Hope Road and Lake Wylie on Wednesday morning, September 18, 2019. [Mike Hensdill/The Gaston Gazette] © Mike Hensdill/The Gaston Gazette/Gaston Gazette/TNS Work continues on the new Gaston County venue to be known as Morningstar Marinas at McLean, along South New Hope Road and Lake Wylie on Wednesday morning, September 18, 2019. [Mike Hensdill/The Gaston Gazette]

"An announcement about the restaurant is shortly down the road," said Burt Philips, a marketing director and spokesman for McLean. "That'll be big news. They've been working on that for a while and we think that will be another nice addition to what's happening in the area."

Morningstar Marinas already owns and operates nine facilities along the East Coast of the United States, including three alone on Lake Norman. The company has been in business for more than 35 years, after getting its start in 1981 as a self-storage business.

a group of people walking down a dirt road: Work continues on the new Gaston County venue to be known as Morningstar Marinas at McLean, along  South New Hope Road and Lake Wylie on Wednesday morning, September 18, 2019. [Mike Hensdill/The Gaston Gazette] © Mike Hensdill/The Gaston Gazette/Gaston Gazette/TNS Work continues on the new Gaston County venue to be known as Morningstar Marinas at McLean, along South New Hope Road and Lake Wylie on Wednesday morning, September 18, 2019. [Mike Hensdill/The Gaston Gazette]

Morningstar's locations each have a 'ship's store' that sells items such as sunglasses, sunscreen, batteries, life jackets, snacks and other supplies that add to the experience of spending a day on the water. Its marinas typically offer services such as boat washing, waxing and detailing, boat bottom painting, winterization services, and more.

You can reach Michael Barrett at 704-869-1826 or on Twitter @GazetteMike.

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©2019 Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, N.C.

Visit Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, N.C. at www.gastongazette.com

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