Boat dealer buys Lake George Forum, will convert it to massive showroom

View of Lake George from the second story of Fort William Henry in May 2019
View of Lake George from the second story of Fort William Henry in May 2019

LAKE GEORGE — A Lake George boat dealer is hoping to make a big splash with a massive new showroom.

Boats By George announced Friday that it has purchased the Lake George Forum on Route 9. It plans to convert the 50,000-square-foot facility from an ice rink and convention center to a destination shopping experience and headquarters.

The work to be done is mostly cosmetic, including indoor and outdoor aesthetics and installation of more windows.

When it’s done, the company will vacate its current headquarters on Route 149, near Route 9. Service and storage will remain at the company’s current site on Route 149 near Route 9L. It also has marinas on the east side of the lake, at Sandy Bay and Warner Bay.

“We have outgrown our showroom at 18 State Route 149,” President and CEO George Pensel said in a news release. “With five brands, we desperately needed the additional space. It will take approximately 12 months to complete renovations prior to opening the new facility to the public.”

The move will place the company closer to the lake itself.

Along with sales, finance and administrative office space, there will be a boating-themed retail shop in the repurposed building. The Forum’s commercial kitchen will be retained for use during special events.

But the highlight will be the showroom space. Boats By George plans to create a section for each manufacturer it stocks, with a theme and flavor keyed to that company’s image — making the facility an experience rather than a maritime warehouse, and allowing it to be marketed as a destination for shoppers from Poughkeepsie to Canada.

With interactive displays and as many as 50 boats on the floor, it will rival all but the largest boat shows, Pensel said.

Boats By George was founded by Pensel in 1982. Its range currently includes upscale runabouts, family day boats, ski and wakeboard boats and pontoon boats, and the company hopes to further expand its product line in the new space.

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