Grapevine: Yorktown, Laffey gunning for top museum ship status

The Laffey at state-owned Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum is known as “The Ship That Would Not Die.”

Two floating war-tested veterans at Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum in Mount Pleasant are battling this Independence Day holiday to be named the best museum ship in the world by a running USA Today Travel feature called 10Best.

The World War II-era aircraft carrier Yorktown and its smaller counterpart, the destroyer Laffey, are among a fleet of more than 188 historic vessels vying for the title.

The Yorktown serves as headquarters of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and houses the agency’s official Medal of Honor Museum. The Laffey is the only surviving Sumner-class destroyer in North America. It was added to the Patriots Point fleet in 1981 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986. The Yorktown is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary as a museum ship and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

Online voting is currently underway at bit.ly/Vote4PatriotsPoint. Visitors to the site can vote for their favorite museum ship once per day through July 18. The winner and a list of the top 10 ships will be announced July 22.

USA Today included King Street in a similar popularity contest last month that solicited votes on the top main streets in America. The peninsula’s main commercial drag did not make the top 10.

Boeing’s local operations will see fewer vehicle tax bills arriving in the mail as part of a Charleston County effort to simplify the comany’s paperwork.

Boeing — which owns dozens of vehicles at its North Charleston campus, where it makes the 787 Dreamliner — asked the economic development department this year if the tax bills for those vehicles could be consolidated. In addition to the vehicles, Boeing is taxed on hundreds of assets, including buildings, machinery, equipment and tools.

“It was a real chore,” said Mark Pilling of Boeing’s Shared Services Group. “We’d get a tax bill in and we couldn’t figure out how to pay it because Boeing’s procurement system is not that friendly.”

County auditor Peter Tecklenburg and treasurer Andy Smith created a program that allows Boeing to set up an escrow account and make an estimated payment for its current fleet inventory.

Bills are charged against that account throughout the year, and monthly reports are generated so the county and Boeing can keep up with the transactions.

The treasurer’s office handles the account and the payments while the auditor’s office handles the billing and database of Boeing vehicles. The auditor’s office also provides information to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles as part of the vehicle registration process.

County officials say the combined effort streamlines the tax process for Boeing and adds efficiencies for the company. County Council recognized Tecklenburg, Smith and the economic development department during June 21 meeting for their efforts.

“One of the main aspects that keeps my job interesting is the constant challenge to solve problems,” Tecklenburg said in a statement.

Tecklenburg said the program also could be adopted for other area businesses.

Retail in detail

A linchpin of the city’s West Ashley revitalization strategy is moving along.

The Design Review Board on Tuesday will go over plans detailing what the proposed new Whole Foods Market at 1127 Savannah Highway will look like. The Texas-based grocery chain will anchor a new retail center at the corner of Farmfield Avenue, beside the longtime Doscher’s IGA.

The project also has a name — West Ashley Station, according to renderings submitted to the city by developer S.J. Collins Enterprises of Fairburn, Ga., and architect Phillips Partnership of Atlanta.

The new Whole Foods is expected to open next year.

The developer also is seeking approval for about 5,150 square feet of retail space along the Savannah Highway edge of the property. That’s actually the purpose for the city meeting at 5 p.m. at 75 Calhoun St.

Whole Foods has one other Charleston-area location about 7 miles north on Highway 17 in Patriots Plaza Shopping Center in Mount Pleasant. It opened in 2004 in a former 42,000-square-foot Bi-Lo supermarket. The West Ashley store will be slightly larger at 45,021 square feet, the plans show.