The proposed $100 million Medal of Honor Museum at Patriots Point is one step closer to getting off the ground, but there’s still more to be done.
The local Medal of Honor Museum Foundation signed the 102-page lease on Friday that requires payment of $1 a year for the next 99 years for the Mount Pleasant waterfront site.
Only Patriots Point Development Authority’s signature remains.
The deal is significant because once it’s finalized, the Medal of Honor Museum Foundation, an agency set up separately from the museum itself, can begin raising money for the project.
“It’s a good lease,” said Medal of Honor recipient and retired Maj. Gen. Jim Livingston, who is a member of the foundation. “We wouldn’t have signed it if we didn’t think it was good. It’s a real estate deal, and it’s a big deal for us.”
As proposed, the elaborate structure would sit on 7.7 acres on Charleston Harbor at the entrance to Patriots Point near the existing visitor parking lot.
The foundation has the option to lease another 7 acres at fair market value for commercial development that would complement the museum.
The lease comes with strings. It’s contingent on the foundation raising $5 million within 18 months and implementing a campaign to bring in up to $125 million within two years. If the money is not raised in seven years, either the foundation or Patriots Point can cancel the lease.
The museum, when completed within 10 years, is expected to attract 250,000 extra visitors a year to the naval and maritime museum at Patriots Point, increase land values and make property more marketable. That would inject an infusion of cash into the waterfront tourist attraction for looming costly repairs to the aging Yorktown.
Mac Burdette, executive director of state-owned Patriots Point, said Patriots Point will sign the lease when the Medal of Honor Society signs a supplemental agreement where it pledges to get Congress to designate a national Medal of Honor Museum.
That requirement came from the S.C. Budget and Control Board, Burdette said.
State officials wanted to make sure another site doesn’t get the federal designation once the museum is built, he added. The current Medal of Honor Museum is housed inside the World War II-era aircraft carrier Yorktown at Patriots Point.
Patriots Point, the museum foundation and the Medal of Honor Society will write Congress seeking the designation, Burdette said.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.