Developers want neighborhood of houseboats to head downstream

CLEVELAND - As far as waterfront property goes, Dave Patterson's home is about as on the water as it gets.

But the property isn't his, and new owners who plan to develop the Marina Bay area want Patterson and a handful of others who live in their boats to hoist up their anchors.

Ferchill Group bought the property in October and told the liveaboard boaters in December that they had until Feb. 1 to bid the bay goodbye.

Patterson, 69, said the residents had an agreement with the former owners that they could stay until the end of May.

And leaving now would be impossible, resident George Pappas said.

"The water level is low because it's winter," he said. "We can't get out until the spring comes and the water levels rise -- unless they want to dig a channel for us to get out."

Ferchill Group President Marty Herman said Sunday that he wasn't aware of any problems with the water levels.

He said the company is concerned about the safety of the boaters, who have been using bathroom facilities at a building on the property.

"We don't know what shape that building is in," Herman said. "We don't want the liability of them getting hurt."

Patterson, who has lived on his sailboat for three years, said he plans to head to the Gulf of Mexico after he leaves the bay. But he said he'll miss the makeshift neighborhood and the views of both the city and the Cuyahoga River.

"There's nothing like living down here, winter and summer," he said. "The big ships go by, and you feel the waves they make. We even love the sound of their horns."

Ferchill plans to develop townhouses with boat docks on the property.

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