A visitor to the newest and largest building at Front Street Shipyard recently likened it to something out of NASA. And given the organization of the 22,000-square-foot space — the tiered network of mezzanines and catwalks, massive yachts propped up to within a coin toss of the 55-foot ceilings — entering Building 5, as it’s known, does come with a certain feeling of having wandered into the gantry at Cape Canaveral just before a launch.

Maybe just as awe-inspiring, for all but the newest arrivals to Belfast, is that Building 5, or any of the shipyard, for that matter, exists at all.

It was barely a year ago that a group of marine industry businessmen and investors bought the abandoned waterfront property along with the crumbling remains of a century-old sardine canning business, and unveiled plans for what they described as a “world-class” boat servicing facility. A “shipyard.”

Since then, the business has made major improvements to the property at a staggering pace, including the demolition of several old buildings, the construction of a mobile boat lift pier, renovations and new construction to existing buildings and major groundwork on the property.

The company has been renting slips and making boat repairs from the outset, but with the big construction projects tapering off seems poised to turn its attention more exclusively to the business of boat and ships.

On Jan. 26, Building 5 was host to nine of these, packed like sardines into its two massive work bays. The largest of the boats, a putty-pocked 106-foot powerboat called “Stoneface” filled the better part of one of the bays.

Some 30 feet above the floor of the building, a pair of workers in full body suits crawled over the curves of the boat’s upper deck, sanding out rough spots.

On the central mezzanine, a cluster of men with clipboards gathered for an impromptu meeting. At ground level, designers and administrators worked on computers in an enclosed office space while carpenters finished building a storeroom nearby.

Several boats were undergoing repairs, including one that was having its stern elongated, while others were being stored for the winter.

All were very large, which as Special Projects Manager Michael King explained, has given the shipyard some security amid an economy that has been tough on other businesses.

“The owners of the bigger boats have much more money, so it doesn’t affect them as much as it does the middle-of-the-road client,” he said.

Front Street Shipyard serves plenty of less-affluent boat owners too, and around the grounds and within the maze of buildings at the northern end of the property there was no shortage of smaller boats.

The ability to service the 100-foot yachts clearly gives the shipyard an in with the upscale set, and the shipyard is hoping this translates into a rising tide for Belfast.

King, who started with Front Street Shipyard six months ago, grew up within view of the old cannery and called the shipyard “the best thing that’s happened to this property in many years.”

Unlike some of the earlier plans pitched for revitalizing the property that involved condominiums, he believes that if the shipyard does well, the benefits will trickle down to other local businesses.

The shipyard is also branching out into new boat construction.

In a smaller building on the property, workers from Augusta-based Kenway Corp. were finishing the hulls of the first new boats to be built at the shipyard.

Southport Boats, a line of 30-foot powerboats, is owned by Kenway, which specializes in composites, and through owner Kenneth Priest has investment ties to the shipyard. Plans to manufacture the Southport line in Belfast were discussed from an early stage as a logical first move for the shipyard into new boat construction.

According to King, the shipyard is pursuing other new construction projects, including a contract to build an 80-foot powerboat.

The shipyard currently employs 56 people, King said. Upcoming projects include the recently approved installation of a dock and float system to be located between the boat lift pier and the footbridge. King said half of these slips have already been spoken for.

“We feel fortunate,” he said. “We’ve got all kinds of work now and the future’s pretty good.”

After a tour around the shipyard grounds, King headed across the expanse of gravel leading to Building 5. As he started to open the door he turned back and offered an invitation which, given the pace of development, could have been made at any point during the past year at Front Street Shipyard.

“Come back in a couple months,” he said. “There’ll be a lot more changes in here.”