will change Madison forever
MADISON, Ind. - Patricia Hereford doesn't own a boat.
But soon, she's going to have her own marina. Right here on the Madison
"I grew up on the Ohio River, and people say, 'You bought a marina,
and you don't even have a boat.' Well, that's because Madison doesn't
have a marina," Hereford said.
But this never-say-never entrepreneur plans to change that.
by Don Ward
Hereford bought the old
Madison Marina, which she plans to
turn into Rivercrest Marina, a private
enclave along the banks of the
Ohio River on the west end of
The woman whose family name is as familiar to Madison
residents as the Broadway Fountain plans to build a 250-slip marina
on 28 acres of land she purchased last fall at the far west end of Second
The land was once home to the Madison Marina, whose barns housed boats
for winter storage. Only this marina will offer much more than boat
In fact, when Hereford's $11.3 million Rivercrest Marina opens sometime
next year, Madison may never again be the same.
In addition to the marina, the project will include 39 luxury condominim
units to be built in three phases. Each phase will have 13 units built
in three stories with a garage underneath and list for about $200,000
apiece. The fourth-floor penthouse suites will start around $325,000.
Along with the first phase, a boating supply and clothing store will
serve residents and guests. And in back of the store will be a Noble
Roman's pizza outlet.
The second phase of condos will include a dry stack storage facility
to accommodate 75 boats.
But that's not all. Drawing on her family's many years of restaurant
experience, Hereford plans to open a large restaurant on the riverfront
to serve the public as well as private residents and guests.
She's also approached the Madison Country Club about an arrangement
to offer golf course privileges to her residents and guests.
"Our family has run hotels and restaurants for years, and my father
built several houses here. But this is a project that I hope will leave
a lasting impact on Madison," said Hereford, 46, the youngest of
two daughters and the one who has carried on the family tradition by
running the Best Western Motel and adjacent Nex-Dor Lounge on Madison's
In 1995, she built the Clean Machine Car Wash, located just a mile up
But a marina - that presents new challenges for even the business-savvy
An ambitious project even by Hereford standards, the marina will require
creating a 60-foot-wide berm and digging an nine-acre inlet - both which
require approval by the Army Corps of Engineers and state environmental
Meanwhile, Hereford plans to begin as early as June building the first
of three phases of condos. In fact, she's already started putting in
a temporary dock along the riverbank to accommodate 44 boats and to
be ready in time for Memorial Day.
A family affair
To aid her in the daunting task, she has teamed up with her 31-year-old
son, Jamie Visker, who holds advanced degrees from Indiana University,
plus nearly five years of experience in industrial and commercial development.
The two are partners in this newest venture - and one that should keep
them busy for several years.
artist's rendition show
what the first phase of condos will
look like at the new Rivercrest
Marina. Construction is scheduled to
begin in June 1999 on the first
phase of 13 condo units.
"I've worked for other people in many projects, but
this will give me a chance to build something I have ownership in, and
one that will serve the community long past the time I'm here,"
said Visker, an Indianapolis resident who plans to move to Madison to
help manage the marina project.
When the two are finished, there will still be seven acres left for
a future hotel. At least, that's one possibility.
With Patricia Hereford, the possibilities seem endless. Those who know
her would certainly agree.
"That girl, she's a spitting image of her father. She's all business.
And not afraid of anything," said Barbara Crowell, who has known
Hereford since they were teenagers and has herself just entered the
motel business by buying and renovating a motel on Hwy. 42, just north
of Carrollton, Ky.
But Hereford has business in her blood. When she was only 5 years old,
her parents, Jack and Delsie, built and ran Jerry's Drive-In. They also
ran the nearby Clifty Motel, both located on the Madison hilltop near
the intersection of Highways 62 and 256.
In 1967, the Herefords sold the Clifty Motel to Crowell's parents. Barbara
lived in the motel, and the Herefords' house sat just behind it.
Jack Hereford then developed Hereford Lakes subdivision on Highway 256
as well as others. He also built the Village Square Shops and the Steer
Restaurant on Clifty Drive. The restaurant, which was recently sold
and converted into a Mexican restaurant, has become a Madison landmark
of sorts over the years because of all the sons and daughters who worked
there as a teenager.
A 17-year-old Patricia Hereford served as the restaurant's hostess on
"I had to borrow a pair of high heels that were too small for me,"
she recalled. "By the end of the night, I could barely stand up
because my feet were killing me."
Hereford left Madison in 1978 and returned in 1982 when she bought the
former Hereford Motor Lodge and The Lounge nightclub from her mother.
In 1989, she joined the Best Western group and in 1991 added 22 more
rooms for a total of 72 units.
Her father died that same year. Her mother still resides in Hereford
Lakes. Her older sister, Jackie, lives in Florida.
Patricia lives on Michigan Road on the Madison hilltop.
The dream deal
The idea for a marina was a no-brainer to Hereford. A longtime member
of the Jefferson County Board of Tourism and the Madison Area Chamber
of Commerce, she believed it was the one thing missing in Historic Madison.
"As a tourism destination, Madison has a premier historic district,
but I believe what separates us from other towns is our river,"
Hereford said. "And our future tourism growth will be dependent
upon developing the riverfront."
A year earlier, when she learned the old Madison Marina might be sold,
she tried to buy it. But the deal fell through.
Then last fall, she learned the land would be sold at auction. Hereford
was attending a Best Western conference in Las Vegas the day of the
sale. She paced the floor of her hotel room as she bid via telephone.
"I think I wore a circle in the carpet by the time it was all over,"
Hereford was only able to get two of the three tracts, but it was enough
to put her plan in motion. L.D. Honeycutt, who runs a marina in Bloomington,
Ind., purchased the third tract and has not announced his plans for
So far, Hereford says reaction to her marina project has been positive.
In fact, she's been busy fielding calls from boaters in southern Indiana
towns and nearby cities who want to rent slips.
Hereford has also been attending marine trade shows to educate herself
on running a marina and meet people in the industry. In May, she plans
to get her harbor master certification.
"It's been very exciting for me, and I think the people of Madison
are excited," she said.
Citing studies on waterfront development by the National Marina Institute,
Hereford predicts her project could increase the local economy tenfold
- or as much as $25 million a year.
"I think it's going to create so much activity that even the businesses
in downtown Madison will feel the effects," she said. "All
these people will be coming downtown to eat and shop and looking for
something to do."
Don't think others haven't already considered the impact on Madison.
"It will be tremendous," said Shelli Williams, executive director
of the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce. "It's amazing the new
level of tourism and development that will be created by the new community
of mid- to high-income people with boats.
"It's a gold mine for local businesses. And in working with Trish
as I have, I know she will work hard to promote area businesses to get
people out to see what else the town has to offer.
Linda Lytle, executive director of the Madison Area Convention and Visitors
Bureau, said her office fields many calls each year from boaters in
Louisville, Ky., asking for temporary dock space or locations of area
marinas, since there are few places to refuel between Louisville and
Cincinnati. Several calls come from Indianapolis from people seeking
permanent boat docking space.
Currently, Madison has only two options for boaters - a few dock spaces
at The Wharf Restaurant along Vaughn Drive and Eagle Hollow, a small
marina east of town. But neither sell gas.
"It's going to be a wonderful addition and something that will
have a big impact on tourism," Lytle said. "On festival weekends,
we never have enough docking space. So Trish is definitely filling a
void in Madison that we've needed for a long time."
Taking advantage of such opportunities is what made Jack Hereford a
legend in Madison, so perhaps it is not surprising that his daughter
would use that same approach.
"She'll take it to the top," Crowell said. "She's very
business-minded. I don't know how she does what she does."
A motel, a restaurant, a car wash. And now a marina with private condos.
The only lingering question is whether Hereford will find it necessary
to buy herself a boat.
"Nah, I'll probably have lots of friends with boats, so I'll just
ride around with them," she joked.
"If I have the time."
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