Just-revealed details of Patriots Point's long-discussed master plan include new exhibits and parking, designated space for restaurants, condominiums and hotels and -- this just in -- a building for the Boeing Co.
At a board meeting Wednesday, Patriots Point Executive Director Mac Burdette unveiled a detailed plan for the 35 acres surrounding the aircraft carrier Yorktown and the existing museum.
Among its proposals is a dedicated building with a footprint of more than 57,000 square feet for Boeing to welcome dignitaries, to hold meetings and conferences and, possibly, to help Patriots Point maintain its own aircraft.
"It needs to be at Patriots Point," Burdette said. "We call it 'the Boeing Pavilion.' If you have to give them the land to do it, get the state to give them the land."
Boeing spokeswoman Candy Eslinger said the company had not been contacted about the site and couldn't discuss the proposal.
"From our standpoint, it's not something they've discussed with us at all," Eslinger said.
Patriots Point staff, working with town of Mount Pleasant and tourism officials, considered several master plans for the area and, according to Burdette, determined that the finished product must consider the mission of the attraction and the market for its prized waterfront real estate.
Burdette said that end result must reflect "edu-tainment."
The area in question accounts for only a small portion of the total 367-acre site, the rest of which Patriots Point hopes to turn over to development that will generate income.
"The opportunities in space are huge here," Burdette said.
Developers told the board last year that the property could hold a value of $180 million if the agency chooses to rethink entirely how it uses the site. With the warship Laffey as a test case, the attraction faces a future of tremendous debt to maintain its aging fleet of warships, unless it drastically changes its business model.
Patriots Point accepted a $9.2 million state loan for emergency repairs to the Laffey in the summer of 2009, and failed to repay it by last year's deadline.
The master plan calls for an 8-acre "mall" modeled after the iconic green space in Washington, D.C., with the museum and gift shop anchoring it on the harbor-facing side and a hotel and convention center at the other end.
Burdette said residents should see the area as a "permanent playground."
Those potential residents include families living in a condominium development on the site.
The plan provides for 1,000 parking spaces in a garage set up in several decks that would provide land on the ground for public green space. The plan also includes a retention pond where visiting scout troops can fish and park-goers can rent paddle boats.
The proposal adds an expanded Vietnam War exhibit and commercial space for restaurants and other ventures that will keep people on the property after museum hours.
Patriots Point's meeting Wednesday included input from consultants and other experts on fundraising and establishing national prominence for the attraction. The board also approved a layout change that would direct foot traffic into its gift shop and an investment in the sesquicentennial commemoration of the Civil War in April.
Chief Financial Officer Royce Breland estimated that spending $50,000 on emergency services, portable restrooms and other needs for the 150th anniversary would bring in at least $140,000 for Patriots Point.
The event should attract more than 200 re-enactors, plus about two dozen cannons wheeled in from around the country.
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