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Could the real value of artificial reefs be real estate revitalization? (not decent waves)

November 11 2009 | Artificial reefs, Jim's Blog,
by Jim

I recently read yet one more piece on the Bournemouth artificial reef in the United Kingdom. There is plenty in the piece that meshes well with my series on this subject. Net net, the success of the reef from a surfing perspective is very questionable.

But as I read the piece I found myself doing the equivalent of looking away from the wave... and towards the town. I've never been to Bournemouth. I'm speaking figuratively.

The piece paints Bournmouth as an area that has seen better days. "To be honest, this whole area was pretty run down, disused and really grubby" Beverley Dunlop, Cabinet member for Leisure and Tourism at Bournemouth Borough Council.

Now look at it. The hipster, mod beach pods to the right are on the market for US$150,000. Among the more interesting aspects of these is the value proposition to prospective buyers... offering panoramic views across Bournemouth's new artificial surf reef. Does it matter that the wave only has body boarders on it? Or does it matter more that the reef offered so much sex appeal to a run down area of town?

My stance on artificial reefs is the same. It's simply too early to tell if this one offers any value to surfers. We need a year to see how many days it is surfed. So far it's being adopted by bodyboarders only, acts like a mini-me slab wave and has amazingly enough already become localized.

But the real story may not be the reef. The real story may be what's happening on land.
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