A Charleston business owner with decades of hotel and restaurant experience will be tapped as the next chair of the Patriots Point Development Authority, the body that oversees the maritime museum on Charleston Harbor.
The leadership change comes just as the state-owned visitor attraction is entering a phase of new land development that will include 30 acres of hotel rooms, offices and retail on the Mount Pleasant waterfront.
Bill Hall, the owner of four Halls Chophouse restaurants and head of the downtown Charleston-based hospitality company Hall Management Group, will be appointed by Gov. Henry McMaster to succeed current chair Ray Chandler after the end of this year.
“Having operated hotels and restaurants around the country for over fifty years, Mr. Hall is a leader in the tourism and hospitality industries whose experience will serve South Carolina and the future prosperity of Patriots Point well," McMaster spokesman Brian Symmes said Tuesday.
Chandler, who was appointed by then-Gov. Nikki Haley, has served as chair for more than seven years. During the museum board's November meeting, Chandler announced he had given notice to McMaster's office that he planned to resign.
Hall will officially be named to the position when Chandler's resignation takes effect Dec. 31.
Duane Parrish, director of the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, said he was excited to see Hall take a leadership role at Patriots Point.
"He's a very successful businessperson and understands tourism," Parrish said. "I think the governor has made a great choice."
Contacted Tuesday, Hall declined to comment at this time.
In addition to its namesake high-end steakhouses, the Hall Management Group also operates downtown restaurants Slightly North of Broad and High Cotton and Rita's on Folly Beach.
A native of San Francisco, Hall began his more than 50-year hospitality career on the west coast. From there, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he met his wife, Jeanne. Together, they moved to Pinehurst, N.C., to run the Carolina Hotel and Country Club.
The couple was brought to Charleston when their daughter was enrolled at the College of Charleston. The Hall family opened their first Halls Chophouse restaurant on King Street in 2009. Other locations were opened in Columbia, Greenville and, most recently, the Nexton development in Summerville.
Hall has also managed Ritz Carlton hotels and the Cloister Resort in Sea Island, Ga.
He serves on several local boards of directors, including those of the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association, Trident Technical College, the College of Charleston and the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition.
The Patriots Point Development Authority Board, in addition to the museum itself, oversees about 350 acres of state-owned land in Mount Pleasant.
During his time as chair, Chandler said his goal had been to make the museum financially sustainable. A large part of the museum's financial future involves a lease agreement with Charleston developer Michael Bennett, who is in the process of planning a mixed-use development on Patriots Point property called Patriots Annex.
A percent of revenue from the hotels, parking garages, offices and retail spaces Bennett builds will go to the museum and help support the maintenance costs of its historic ships.
The authority is also looking to two possible land-based museums that could be built there in the near future.
A group that had originally planned to build a museum to Medal of Honor recipients in Mount Pleasant relocated its project to Arlington, Texas, in the last year, but a local effort was launched over the summer to build a medal museum at Patriots Point, which would be called the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center.
Patriots Point authorities also still hope the museum grounds will become the permanent home for the historic H.L. Hunley submarine that is currently housed in North Charleston.
The museum recently went through another leadership transition with the retirement of Executive Director Mac Burdette in June. Larry Murray, an Army veteran and a former director at the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, stepped into the role over the summer.