Bardos buy Twin Cove Marina in $2.3M deal

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By Brent Schanding

 CARYVILLE—Norris Dam Marina owner Mark Bardo and son Brad Bardo have finalized a $2.3 million deal to acquire bankrupted Twin Cove Marina from its bank owner. The deal —reached on May 31—includes the marina’s 140 boat slips, a full-service restaurant and approximately five acres where the Bardos eventually hope to develop four eight-unit condos. The two-bedroom floor plans could tentatively list for $220-$280,000, son Brad told the LaFollette Press on Monday. 

Brad, 26, who will primarily operate the Caryville marina, said he plans to revitalize the beleaguered property, which has suffered from mismanagement and a string of other problems in the past few years.

The former owners of Twin Cove Marina filed for bankruptcy in 2011 and in June 2012, a gas spill resulted in a temporary shutdown of the site. As many as 200 gallons of gasoline leaked into the water, creating a murky film in the area. Fights often erupted at the marina last summer — including one which notably resulted in the assault of a law enforcement officer. 

“We basically just want to get a customer base back,” Brad said. “It’s going to be family-friendly now. We’re going to be part of an experience.”

The marina will offer live music and specials throughout the summer, Brad said. It’s  also added five new pontoon rentals, as well as other watercraft rentals. 

Twin Cove Marina also lowered its gas prices from last season by as much as 89 cents per gallon—one of many business decisions that have already delighted boaters in the area, including husband and wife Mark and Martha Kahanic. 

The Kahanics have lived at Twin Cove since 2008 and said they’re excited about the new ownership. They said the marina now has a dedicated dockhand to guide boaters into the marina and is better situated to maintain its boat slips. The Kahanics hope other changes will mimic the level of service from the Bardo-owned marina at Norris Dam, near the Anderson-Campbell county line. 

Brad, who earned a business degree from the University of Kentucky and previously sold heavy equipment for his father, expects operating a marina will have its challenges.

“We only have four months out of the year we make money,” he said. 

Additionally, the marina must also meet ever-changing standards imposed by the Tennessee Valley Authority — which governs and regulates Norris Lake and other waterways in the TVA system. 

Under new TVA guidelines, marina owners are expected to see drastic operational hikes, Brad said, which will likely trickle down to marina customers. 

“In my opinion, it’s like a marriage — we have to get along,” he said. “But the revenue marinas bring to the local area is a big deal. I don’t know if [TVA] grasps that.”

Twin Cove Marina employs about 15 part- and full-time workers and attracts many out-of-towners because of its close proximity to Interstate 75. 

“You can get traffic coming from north and south,” Brad said. 

Brad, who lives in Knoxville, said he’s basically grown up on Norris Lake. His father and mother own a lakehouse outside of LaFollette. 

“Every summer my whole life I’ve been down here,” he said.