Patriots Point officials took a peek into the future Friday, and, from their view, the Mount Pleasant maritime museum is shaping up to look quite different.
Where visitors now see a surface parking lot and a one-story gift shop, the museum board is seeing a 30-acre complex of buildings, green space and even an outdoor amphitheater.
The Patriots Point Development Authority voted Friday to approve a master plan for Patriots Annex, local developer Michael Bennett's proposed collection of hotels, retail, office space and other uses.
The developments on the state-owned site are expected to bring almost $3.34 million in annual rental revenue for the museum.
Board chairman Ray Chandler called it a "historical, fantastic plan" and praised his board and Bennett Hospitality for their work.
"It's been a long time to get here today," Bennett said before the vote. "I think this plan is really good."
Bennett's lease with Patriots Point, which was approved by the S.C. Fiscal Accountability Authority in 2017, spans 60 acres. The plan approved Friday lays out development for half of the site.
Some of the land Bennett is leasing is protected by a conservation easement that could be lifted as early as 2023, said Patriots Point's executive director, Mac Burdette. Until then, the focus will be on the plan approved Friday.
Construction could start as early as this fall, but the total buildout will likely take about 15 years, Burdette said.
According to the master plan submitted to the board, each building has a set percentage of revenue that would be given to the maritime museum. For example, 10 percent of the gross revenue from the parking garages would go to Patriots Point.
"Our hope is that the plan enables the growth of the museum," said Susan Marlowe, a board member and head of the museum and education committee.
Some people may wonder, Marlowe said, if the new developments will "dominate" the existing museum.
"It does not," she said. "It takes care of it."
Marlowe said the Patriots Annex developments still leave space on the state-owned Patriots Point property — which combined totals about 460 acres — to build a couple of land-based museums.
The approved master plan includes three hotels that are expected to bring in the largest revenue share of the various uses, almost $1.3 million a year. The largest, at 250 rooms, would be opposite the Yorktown, toward the rear of the 30-acre parcel. A large outdoor pool area is planned next to it.
The other two hotel properties would have 100 and 150 guest rooms. They are to be built near the waterfront on either side of the boardwalk.
In between those two smaller hotels, Bennett plans to add retail space and a 60,000 square-foot amphitheater. Next to that, Patriots Point will have a new building for ticketing, a gift shop and administrative space.
A combined 405,000 square feet of office space is planned for several buildings around the perimeter of the developed area. Two apartment buildings, neighbored by more retail space, would have about 65 units each.
Much of the space where the planned development will go is currently a 600-space surface parking lot for the museum. Three different parking garages with a combined 2,800 spaces are included in the master plan.
At all times, including during construction, Burdette said, Bennett is expected to ensure that at least 600 spaces are available for museum guests.
Now that the plan has won the approval of the Patriots Point board, it will go the town of Mount Pleasant for various approvals.
In addition to the Patriots Annex lease, the development authority also transferred the lease of the Patriots Point Links Golf Course to Bennett Hospitality in December. The 18-hole property had been leased to the Philadelphia-based investment firm Lubert-Adler.
A separate 11-acre Patriots Point parcel is leased to Bennett, too. Their board could see plans for that land in the next year, Burdette said.
Also in Mount Pleasant, just about a mile down the road from Patriots Point, Bennett Hospitality, in partnership with Georgia-based Holder Properties, is building Ferry Wharf, a mixed-use complex of hotel, office, residential and retail development on private land.
Construction on a five-story waterfront office building and an Embassy Suites hotel at Ferry Wharf are both underway.