Patriots Point to lease 50 acres near Charleston Harbor for new development

Patriots Point Development Authority wants to lease about 50 acres to help pay for repairs to the Yorktown aircraft carrier. The land includes the Mount Pleasant maritime museum's existing concession area (show to the left of the Yorktown) and parking areas.

The Patriots Point Development Authority is seeking out investors interested in leasing and developing about 50 acres at the state-owned tourist attraction.

The S.C. Budget and Control Board last week published the terms of a request for proposals, which outlines the property available and the uses it will consider. The Patriots Point Development Authority has deliberated what it would require from developers since December.

Mac Burdette, executive director of Patriots Point, presented the terms of the request for proposals Monday to the Mount Pleasant Planning and Development Committee.

The property available for a 99-year lease is slightly larger than Mount Pleasant Towne Centre. Developments allowed on the property include hotels, restaurants, retail and office space and entertainment venues. The board will not consider single-family residences or industrial uses, Burdette said.

"There can only be so many restaurants and so many hotels, so the board is willing to consider mixed-use developments," he added. "The board made it very clear that while they would entertain the idea of multifamily residences, it cannot be the predominant land use. ... Let's say (the developer) wanted to have apartments over stores, they're willing to do that. But they do not want to see a big block square apartment complex building at Patriots Point."

The property includes a 20-acre plot occupied by the museum's parking lots, ticket office and the soon-to-be-updated Vietnam War exhibit. The request for proposals outlines that the developers would have to pay to relocate the parking and land-side operations should they develop that parcel.

"That's prime real estate right on the Charleston Harbor that we're mainly using as a parking lot, so we think it would be well worth it for a developer to move that part of our operation to another part of our property so they could be the waterfront tenant," Burdette said.

The property also includes a 22 acres next to the College of Charleston sports complex, but that can't be developed until after a conservation easement expires in 2021, Burdette said.

The development authority, a state enterprise agency tasked with operating the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum and maintaining its historic warships, does not receive annual state funding. Income from land leases are a primary revenue stream for Patriots Point.

The upcoming lease is part of Patriots Point's goal to increase its property revenue from $1.6 million per year to $5 million, which will help the attraction afford the restoration of the aging aircraft Yorktown, which could cost up to $100 million.

"As well as we are doing in making money in all of our profit center such as selling tickets and T-shirts, ... there's no way that Patriots Point can succeed on the capital costs, which is restoring ships and maintaining the piers, unless we use our land wisely," Burdette said.

The deadline to respond to the request for proposals is July 25.

Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail