Staten Island Ferry photo via wikipedia commons
In 2008, Jacques Guillet, walked out of a Manhattan Municipal Building, $152,500 poorer, but the proud owner of a used 3,500-passenger Staten Island Ferry. The former marina owner and sailboat racer had a plan to convert the ferry into a floating dorm for New York City's college students. The numbers seemed be in his favor: the city was facing high real estate costs combined with limited space for student housing. But there was also a big problem. Mr. Guillet had nowhere to park the ferry and the city was asking $1000 a day for berthing privileges. So Mr. Guillet did what many of us do with unwanted items: he tried to sell the boat on eBay.This February, Mr. Guillet posted an ad on eBay for the 300-foot long, 1,640-horsepower, 2500 ton, bright orange boat. For just $500,000, the ferry could have been yours (the price didn't including pickup or shipping). 9000 hits later, there were no takers. The Wall Street Journal reports that Mr. Guillet and his broker, Pat Doland, are still trying to sell the boat. Mr. Guillet and Mr. Dolan have spoken with a few interested buyers. There have been nibbles from an antique dealer, a Jewish wedding promoter (imagine the awesome bar mitzvas), and a hotelier who envisions a floating resort.
The ferries have had a history of purposeful reuse. During the 1970's, one ferry was reused as a floating methadone clinic, and another two ferries were reused as "prison ships" for overflow inmate housing of prisoners from Rikers, where inmates lifted weights and played ping-pong - think of a mobile Alcataraz combined rec-room.
Other repurposing attempts have been less successful. During the 1960s, plans to convert a ferry into a mall with a movie theater never materialized. Other ferry owners have had dreams of turning their ferries into waterfront restaurants, but decades later, their ferries sunk into the Hudson River or were disassembled for scrap.
Mr. Guillet, who made his money in the demolition business, could always sell the 1960's era vessel for scrap. But why should an old beauty go down like that? If you have ever dreamed of owning a ferry, having a floating casino, club or swimming pool, now could be your chance!
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